Statement by Andrew Woodward – Labor for Cowper
9 May 2018
Revealed: Infrastructure Australia confirms the great Coffs Harbour Bypass con job
The great Coffs Harbour Bypass con job has been confirmed following the release of details of a letter from the federal government agency responsible for the project, Infrastructure Australia.
This is the ‘smoking gun’ which exposes this week’s announcement by the government for the sham that it is.
Infrastructure Australia is an independent statutory body with a mandate to prioritise and progress nationally significant infrastructure.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, The Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker and state parliamentarians, Melinda Pavey (also the NSW Minister for Roads) and the Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, have serious questions about misleading the public and possibly their parliaments.
On 19 December 2017, the Coffs Harbour Advocate reported: “THE State Government is tomorrow expected to hand over its strategic business case for the Coffs Harbour bypass to Federal Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker. NSW Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey and Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser today confirmed the business case was complete.” See Image One.
On 20 December last year, Mr Hartsuyker, Ms Pavey and Mr Fraser held a media event declaring the “Coffs Harbour Bypass a step closer as strategic business case completed” (sic). See Image Two.
On the same day, Ms Pavey Tweeted “The Coffs Harbour Bypass is a step closer with the Strategic Business Case submitted to the #AustralianGovernment” (sic). See Image Three.
Then today, the Coffs Harbour Advocate has released information sent to them by Infrastructure Australia.
A spokesperson for Infrastructure Australia said a final business case hasn’t been received yet and isn’t expected for another year.
“Infrastructure Australia has only received a draft of the final business case,” the spokesperson said.
“The final business case is not expected to be submitted to Infrastructure Australia for assessment until around June 2019.”
Unpacking this bombshell statement by Infrastructure Australia:
1. The four parliamentarians have blatantly misled the public and media about the project.
2. The final business case has not been submitted.
3. This business case will be submitted for “assessment” (meaning they have announced funding for a project without a formal assessment).
4. The sign off will only come six months before the year that the project is said to start.
A June 2019 approval and a 2020 start, as announced by Mr McCormack, seems unfeasible. That’s too close a margin between an approval and commencement as the government has to write tenders, conduct a tender process, appoint and contract companies and then the successful tenderers have to get the people, equipment and other resources and then start work. How that can happen in 12 to 18 months is questionable.
This commentary from Infrastructure Australia unambiguously confirms that this week’s announcement and six months of political theatre by The Nationals is nothing more than a blatant con job.
The Nationals made a great song and dance about this on 20 December last year. There’s a huge difference between a draft and final business case. And they say it is for assessment. That means Infrastructure Australia hasn’t agreed to it and won’t do so for another 13 months. Are they going to fund something without it being assessed formally?
This project should have been “shovel ready”. We’ve had a Liberal-National Government in Sydney since 2011 and a Liberal-National Government in Canberra since 2013. In December last year, they told us the Strategic Business Plan had been “completed”. It hasn’t. And now we wait for another two to three years for this critical, necessary and welcomed project to start.
This is turning into a shambles – lack of clarity on dates, lack clarity on costs, lack of clarity on jobs, lack of clarity on the route, lack of clarity on cost-cutting and now lack of clarity on approvals and status. The government needs to come clean on this project and explain the misinformation and bumbling.
20 December 2017, Joint News Release (Hartsuyker, Pavey, Fraser)
IMAGE ONE – COFFS HARBOUR ADVOCATE, 19 DECEMBER 2017
IMAGE TWO – HARTSUYKER, PAVEY, FRASER JOINT RELEASE, 20 DECEMBER 2017
IMAGE THREE – MELINDA PAVEY TWEET ON 20/12/2017
IMAGE FOUR – COFFS HARBOUR ADVOCATE ON 9 MAY 2018