NSW Labor has revealed that taxpayers are on the hook for a massive $500 million bailout of the disastrous Sydney Light Rail.
Under questioning by the Labor Opposition in a fiery NSW Budget Estimates today, Minister Andrew Constance could not deny that $500 million has been provided to ensure that the Sydney Light Rail project does not collapse. He had at least five opportunities to rule it out.
Three independent sources verified the secret bailout - a $500 million “liquidity facility” provided by NSW taxpayers - to ensure construction continues pending the resolution of contract disputes.
Premier Berejiklian’s pet project has been mismanaged from the start with delays, cost blowouts, legal disputes and small businesses closing their doors because of the on-going disruption.
Now taxpayers are being asked to stump up another half billion dollars to make sure workers don’t simply walk off the job.
The troubles follow warnings way back in November 2016 from the NSW Auditor-General that the NSW Government “did not effectively manage the planning and procurement process to ensure that NSW had value for money from this project.”
This latest revelation is another hit to taxpayers who have already been forced to pick up a first $500 million blowout after then Transport Minister Berejiklian oversaw mispricing and omissions in the business case.
The Berejiklian Government has engaged insolvency firm McGrathNichol to assist in the $1.2 billion dispute with Acciona.
It was also revealed during the hearing today that the completion date for the light rail has been pushed back again, from March 2020 to May 2020, due to delays with Ausgrid’s electrical works.
Quotes attributable to Deputy Opposition Leader Michael Daley
“Andrew Constance said he was an unhappy customer and that he wasn’t going to give Acciona anymore money but he hasn’t told NSW taxpayers about this $500 million.
“The Minister had every opportunity today to come clean.
“This project is a complete and utter debacle. It’s over-time, over-budget and has been accompanied by lies all the way.
“Why do we have to find out everything through leaks? Why don’t they come clean for once?”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Transport Jodi McKay
“This is an embarrassing day for Andrew Constance. The cost of constructing the light rail keeps increasing and the project completion date has been pushed back again.
“The Auditor-General warned of this way back in 2016 – Gladys Berejiklian did not effectively manage the planning and procurement process for this project and has left NSW taxpayers with a multi-billion dollar bill.
“Premier Berejiklian didn’t do her homework; that’s why there are continued delays and that’s why the consortium building the light rail was at risk of insolvency.”
Quotes attributable to Member of the Legislative Council Daniel Mookhey
“This dog of a project is on the verge of collapsing – to stave off insolvency the Government has been forced to organise a secret $500 million bailout.
“The Ministers responsible – Gladys Berejiklian and Andrew Constance – have lost control of the project, but they haven’t lost control of their ability to resign.”