Sunday, December 10, 2006

NSW $25m Compo for Tunnel Company

NSW Roads Minister announced a $25 million deal with owners of the Lane Cove Tunnel to delay road works . Contracted road closures associated with the (Sydney) Cross City Tunnel caused a voter backlash against the State Government.

However, it should be noted that the lane closures and other associated road works with the Lane Cove Tunnel haven't been scrapped - only delayed! They will happen - after the State election in March next year.

The State Government believes the $25 m is well spent: the Tunnel operators benefit; and the State Government benefits by avoiding voter backlash just before an election.

State Roads Minister Roozendal is reported in media to have said that the NSW Government has "learnt the lessons of the Cross City Tunnel". I wish the State Government would learn the other lessons from the Cross City Tunnel:

  1. Private infrastructure should never interfere with the operation, maintenance & appropriate development of public infrastructure.
  2. Public infrastructure should not be used to funnel people to privately-run, for profit, infrastructure.
  3. No member of the government, ministerial staff or public servants associated with large "public-private" contracts should be able to accept employment with those contractors within 4 years of retirement from government or the Public Service. The potential for conflict of interest is too great. We have had two Premiers of NSW who retired, then took up such employment: one Liberal, and one Labor.
The $25m "compensation" to be paid to the operators of the Lane Cove Tunnel seems to be driven by political expediency and, if so, is a disgrace. ICAC has already declined to investigate, on the basis that the policy change of not starting public roadworks on the day a toll road opens does not constitute corruption, even if it benefits the government. A cynical electorate will make up its own mind.

The Analyst