Senate backs Greens motion calling on Auditor-General to investigate WestConnex

westconnex traffic 260The Greens motion calling on the Auditor-General to investigate the Commonwealth funding approvals for the WestConnex was passed unanimously by the Australian Senate today.

Senator Rhiannon said: “Winning Senate support for a federal audit of WestConnex was a great breakthrough that comes on top of the release of the AEC political donations data that shines more light onto the problematic WestConnex project.

“Since 1998 two major contractors for WestConnex, John Holland and Leighton and related entities, have donated over $3 million to the major parties.

“Just last year toll road operator Transurban Holdings donated almost $18,000 to Liberal Party branches, and made payments totalling over $100,000 to a Liberal-aligned fundraising vehicle.

Greens Newtown MP Jenny Leong said: “Given the NSW government’s inglorious history of corruption, dodgy deals and vested interests, this call for a thorough investigation of WestConnex is the only responsible way forward.

“Federal money is leveraging this polluting tollway disaster, with its alarming budget blowouts, unconvincing business case and Environment Impact Statements that lack proper analysis and credibility.

“It’s time that the regressive, ill-considered project that is WestConnex – which will shift billions of public money into private pockets – is stopped. Governments should be investing in sustainable and innovative public transport solutions that benefit the community – not polluting private tollways.

Full text of the motion:

The Senate –

1.       Notes the findings of the federal Auditor General’s report that examined approval and administration of federal funding for the East West Link project, including:

a.       the commitment of $3 billion funding went against “clear advice” from the public service that the project hadn’t been justified and wasn’t ready

b.      neither stage of the project had proceeded fully through processes that have been established to assess the merits of nationally significant infrastructure investments prior to the decision to approve $3 billion in Commonwealth funding

c.       at the time the commitment was made it was not considered to have yet demonstrated strong strategic and economic merit by Infrastructure Australia

d.      the payment came just months after the Coalition promised not to fund infrastructure projects worth more than $100 million without the publication of a proper cost-benefit analysis

2.       Notes that the federal Government funded the East West Link project at the same time as it cancelled existing investment in public transport projects like the Perth Light Rail project and the Melbourne Metro Rail project  – both of which had been assessed and included by Infrastructure Australia on their Infrastructure Priority List

3.       Requests that, given the almost identical characteristics, the Auditor General investigate the Commonwealth funding approvals and decisions taken for the Perth Freight Link and WestConnex projects.