Berejiklian’s 2020 Budget Deceits & Links to Feds
We’re getting close to the point of asking whether the Federal and NSW Treasuries are sufficiently competent and independent to perform their duties.
The Sydney media have broadcast the NSW Government’s Budget PR without analysing the implications, as the “mega building” $90 billion ceiling is broken for the first time (SMH) and ABC’s stenographic repetition would have us believe.
Journos should know better, after all the work done within Fairfax over time to expose cretinous secret documents including the direction to exclude transit from F6 corridor studies, which breaches every due diligence instruction “in the world” (virtually).
The details are set out in fulsome detail on these webpages but in short, value-for-money, intergenerational equity, economic efficiency, social justice, and commercial returns require much better people and processes than are seen in NSW – agencies, executives, Representatives, crafts and guilds, lobbies and unions.
Foremost are the fused operatives who do not respect “Menzies” or Eddington, past heroes or democracy - the whole circuit of politicians, ex-pollies in lobbies, banks (“Sir Desmond”) and the corporate vultures who now rule surveillance agencies and push “Belt & Roads”.
The first task of a Budget is to match needs with resources as best a Government can do. Over long periods priority was given to older areas in what Turnbull called “anachronistic spatial determinism”. Detroit, Baltimore and other cities have shown us the real consequences of broken Treasury processes. (This analyst is in course of publishing in the UK a comparative case study of Baltimore and Sydney, with a prominent American peer.)
Problems in NSW included rapscallion capriciousness which saw Labor chop and change metros in absolute confusion under the influence of unskilled advisors, with 10,000 people receiving up to $5,000,000,000 worth of three stations! The Coalition promised to end that “planning stench”, the “backroom deals”, the “metro fiascos”.
The then head of NSW Treasury, now head of the national Treasury, was on the Audit Commission that said this nonsense must stop; but he is now shovelling gold and diamonds down the throats of lobbies and consultants and killing better ideas, as explained below.
Gladys Berejiklian took the low road and has been careering down the metro track without brakes, to the point where her first project has failed commercially but still gets money from the Budget, its West sibling is luxuriating with lots of moolah going to buddy consultants given no valid protocols, and the Feds and NSW are fused in trying to get up a West Metro that is vastly higher in risk and cost as well as timespan than the alternative Greiner iNSW/RG option.
Here are the details as including the 2019-20 FY:
However, the stinger is on page 118 of the boring document: expenditure on the West Metro will be
$6,400,000,000 over the next 4 years, so the “current” figure as presented (being 2% of that ) is misleading.
Even then, the current total of St Marys and West is a little south of where the same metromaniacs took Labor (about $500 million so they’re up to close to a billion) without due diligence.
Funnily enough, a few years ago I explained to a senior planner that the West was a dud, and he said, “but they’ve spent so much on it!”. Indeed, that is the crime, then and increasingly still.
The financial failure of the current Metro is documented on this site and www.sydneybetrays.me.
Next, the Budget should have great ideas in it for meeting new challenges, and maintaining the best assets our predecessors worked so hard to leave us.
In Transport alone, there are 106 major projects, of which 60% have no target cost or cap. This is unbelievable Treasury incompetence cascaded down to line agencies which are under the Premier’s sight lines. Every project should have been defined in line with iNSW guidelines to a t, with Treasury acting as it used to, preventing blunders. Asset maintenance is the first victim of Budget sloppiness and that’s not good enough where there is little focus on minor asset and maintenance sections.
There is no sign of funding known deficiencies such as “Morrison’s Backyard” of congestion-riddled freight pathways; nor the crippling congestion coming off WestConnex at Rozelle. Again Berejiklian is thumbing her nose at the Feds and real communities.
Faster Rail was one of Berejiklian’s loopier ideas before the election but she brought out yet another British expert and anticipated devoting $4.6 million to 5 routes - but has allocated $295 million, which needs a thorough explanation as the Feds have put $40 million into 5 other options and Berejiklian said “she’d go it alone”. Given her record of failure, matched by the Feds’, this is a real worry situation.
The Circular Quay refurbishment, a signature tourism element, was promoted as receiving $200 million but all that is “approved as a project” is $18.5 million.
The Wynyard Walk was “inspired” by this analyst’s Barangaroo Expressnet which was estimated to cost $17 million. The Walk started at $100 million in Berejiklian’s usual magnanimous manner, rose to $300 million, a little less than the escalation in the ES tram, but has passed $317 million. C’est la vie en l’etat de l’incertitude.
There's a problem with Berejiklian's silo-sycophants: they think that land use is an outcome. No, buddies, you morons have had this wrong all along, as Nick Greiner put it, "it's all a bit arse-about". See the old-and-future planning flowchart under "PM Morrison's Challenge", you are hurting so many including your political sponsor, PM Morrison (not that PM Turnbull knew which way is up).
PM Turnbull said "we are caring for Sydney". PM Morrison said he'd "be like Menzies". They are not the biggest lies. Labor destroyed itself with a Dept of Premiers-driven "planning stench" (O'Farrell). That that continues means that "congestion busting" is a monumental whopper.
The lie that Sydney will have to bear for generations to come is that the Metro program was cost-effective, operationally-appropriate and proportionate to congestion and demographic challenges. It is none of those things: it is an obsession driven by Hong Kong corporates (including banks). The "Baird model" is broken but the obsessives are continuing, including in PM Morrison's and Berejiklian's backyards, especially under the hapless City Deal and "Port Botany" monopoly club.
The recent NSW State Election was misinterpreted as a win for Berejiklian, when it was a loss for Labor. Aaron Patrick wrote in the Financial Review that "Building train lines through dense cities is complicated, politically and physically. Berejiklian was responsible for the project's inception when she was transport
minister, and had guided it into being seven years later as Premier. She was entitled to feel proud". In her dreams.
Berejiklian was reported in the SMH as trying to find a better way to densify - no, that Baird "crash through or crash" approach is destructive and counter-productive, it is is citicide - the better way is defined in these pages would but Berejiklian be as listening and caring as she claims to be. Instead, she has multiplied the unfunded and improbable project myths like a metro to Badgerys Airport and fast rail in all directions (when not even one is possible).
Former PM Turnbull got the facts wrong as in the tram history:
No Malcolm, it was a broken promise and humiliation of Nick Greiner as well as betrayal of NSW. It will be the second "Baird ghost train" after the 1995 catastrophic corporate insolvency on the Airport Link.
The Coalition promised to have independent verification of infrastructure and related promises (which includes the Metros) – why was this avoided as well as the requirement to produce a business case etc? (An email dated 6 January 2016 from the Metro advised that the business case” is still in development” - well after profound decisions about the Bradfield network had been taken.
The Government’s election manifesto in March 2011, “Make NSW Number One Again” contained these words:
… over 15 years of Labor, projects have gone off the rails with multi-million dollar cost overruns and blowouts in completion dates. Some projects have incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditure – and been cancelled with nothing to show for it. No boardroom, or CEO in the private sector would be permitted to get away with such incompetence…. Labor’s Rozelle Metro fiasco has cost at least $498 million in cancellation compensation costs. (The Coalition will have) Independent verification of Treasury costings; and Clear statements on the impact of costings on forward budgets.
Long-standing Treasury guidelines provide for a feed-back loop to recover from poorly-conceived decisions:
There should be reassessment of major project parameters as project planning proceeds, and if these vary significantly reassessment of the decision to proceed with the proposed project may be necessary to avoid implementing a project that has negative net benefits…. For large projects, a preliminary economic appraisal may be required, and subsequently updated as new material and data become available.
Forgive the long quote but these precious words are critical from the Interim Report of the Schott Commission of Audit (early 2012):
The Commission agrees with the Lambert Review “that rigorous and holistic asset planning in NSW is sometimes absent and tends to follow, rather than lead, the commitment to an infrastructure investment”. Notably:
These failures are manifest through flawed project prioritisation and selection, feasibility or integration problems, cost blow-outs and policy reversals. For example, NSW set out seven, sometimes conflicting, transport plans between 1998 and 2010. Many of these prematurely announced projects have not been delivered. The Commission’s view is that the existing business case criteria are essentially robust and comprehensive. For material capital investments, agencies are required to elaborate on:
It is important that agencies fully comply with the business criteria and ensure that all these aspects are addressed in a well-articulated and unambiguous manner. Agencies also need to be held accountable against the appropriate key performance indicators if the proposed asset investments are undertaken. Gateway is important to Treasury. The reviews provide a level of assurance on whether the investment is warranted, the strategic options, and the agency’s capability and capacity to manage the delivery of the project. Mandated in 2004 these reviews test the soundness of the business case for major projects with the objective of ensuring agencies apply an appropriate level of procurement discipline being applied. In a review of the Gateway process in 2008, it was identified that Gateway is capable of delivering significant benefits to the whole of government throughout the process lifecycle.
Schott put this critical assignment in the hands of public servants. It should be with the Premier and Treasurer, and has been so in previous governments. Can we intuit why she went this way?
That Report and the preceding Lambert one emphasised the benefits to be gained from systematic planning. It is impossible to see how these views and the recommendations based on them were implemented in the cases of the Metro itself, Tibby Cotter Bridge, changes to WestConnex (none moving in the right direction, towards the Southern Cross Drive), the Strathfield to Olympic Park tramway that has one of the most foolishly optimistic reports behind it, the uber-dumb idea of extending the snail-tram imposed in 1995 to White Bay – making the arrival of tourists from both airlines and ships a dreadful transit experience.
Add the location of a metro station in Waterloo where there are two stations already and the population load has been lied about. Three N/S routes and none in the critical E/W direction.
The recent "decision" to put a cruise liner terminal at Yarra Bay, abutting the KSA N/S runways - was the loopiest one possible anywhere in the history of transport planning.
The complete smashing of the protocols is documented in the following and adjoining tabs.
WestConnex is about to dump 20,000 more vehicles per day on the Anzac Bridge and Berejiklian is refusing all local transit schemes lest her Metro obsession be threatened. She is trying to accelerate the West Metro, not knowing the history there and having wasted $77 million proving a tunnel was near-impossible at the Spit - as usual, she would not listen when that was foretold.
She does not understand the differences between congestion reduction through local transit, and long-distance fast transit remote from localities. This includes the Goanna Transit Bridge which Urban Growth tried to steal in 2015 – extensive peer reviewing produced the observation, that “it should have been done long ago”. This is the opposite of Turnbull’s promise: “Infrastructure should be assessed objectively and rationally on its merits. There is no place for ideology here at all.” Yet he had funded the still-mythical West Metro. That Labor supports it is no justification.
.The first mistake was made in Berejiklian's TfNSW but it was picked by by Greiner's iNSW and then iA - all without checking the veracity of MTR's "bid" numbers. The reality was that the metros would reduce the network’s passenger capacity while falsely claiming it will provide a 60% increase – the numbers distorted the comparison between double-decked trains and metros by about 95%. That canard was repeated by iA which presumably did not check the numbers or understand Sydney despite the issues being ventilated by ABC Fact Checkers, Ron Christie (former Rail Coordinator General) and the ABC’s Lateline, as well as being formally submitted to Ministers and governmental inquiries. (Metro’s changes to proposed timetables, to increase train numbers while maintaining the 85% standing ratio that will be disastrous in operation were surreptitious and meaningless.) The central portal mistakenly used by the Western world's worst pre-planners will limit overall system capacity, permanently, thus reducing the credibility of Sydney "ghost metro" (to match Bruce Baird's "ghost train").
In fact, 20 double-deckers can run 32,480 passengers an hour under full system loading. 28 of the CBD Metro 6-car equivalents would be needed (40% more). TfNSW has yet to justify its numbers for the NW which on the face of it would need 21.6 trains (8% more). The rail safety report submitted in May 2012 described 24+ trains an hour on existing tracks as having “extremely high risk, operational impact and cost”, with “costly and disruptive” upgrades of CBD stations and Central flyovers. (London is pondering 40 trains per hour but in their circumstances.) Ron Christie's quote (he knows more than all of TfNSW combined) was “If double deck rolling stock were to be replaced by single deck rolling stock, between 15% and 50% more trains would be required …”.
My work is focussed on evidence, unlike Berejiklian's on ideology. The main way to improve CBD congestion remains the removal of trains! The circumferential would reduce usage of the Harbour Bridge while delivering commuters and other travellers to northern and NW locations without having to go into and out of the CBD. That simple logic has been screaming for attention in Sydney for a long time.
Business Cases were to be the medium for probity and other due diligence protocols. None were more important than WestConnex's which was a disgrace that led to the "company's" excusal from FOI; then Bankstown Metro's, the essence of replacement of the Bradfield system without electoral or Parliamentary legitimisation.
The Summary Business Case for the CBD to Bankstown Metro contained 110 redactions on all important cost and benefit dimensions, which is critical because the only benefits are in real estate yields. There were no capacity and scope improvements over the Bradfield rail system it replaces, meaning nett disbenefits from the closure of the Line for up to a year and derived increases in housing costs and congestion associated with “axial densification” on the Hong Kong Metro model.
A negative BCR would be matter of national scandal normally, but Andrew Clennell in the Daily Telegraph glorified it with "Sydney's long-awaited new southwest rail line will be the 'ultimate congestion buster' carrying up[ to a staggering 60 trains an hour".
Transport Minister Constance promised the Herald he would release details of the real estate deals within a week; but much later revealed the developers in the Central Station section of the route might have to be subsidised by several billions to make the project work - the Metro was not about service but about helping developers, especially from Hong Kong. The DT's subsequent niggles about capacity claims never reached the real questions about whether this was the right route, the right option, the right timing, the right technology, the right engineering, and the right community/developer balance.
There are community protests in Campsie which is one of the Bankstown Line’s densification axes, namely 67 new 10-storey equivalents where there are none now. AECOM’s Asia-Pacific CEO labelled their residential developments as "fortresses" that were geared towards profit, not liveability
These notes were prepared when Baird, Berejiklian and Stokes started the silly competition between SydUni and Stokes' own UrbanGrowth:
The cost range of $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion is counter-intuitive. This is too low if it includes Metro City & Southwest (page 8) or too high if just Sydenham to Bankstown. The benefit/cost ratio of 1.53 is questioned due to the practical understanding of an expert economist and the previous Jim Steer results of <0.5. Road user benefits at 13% of total benefits is “crazy”. Low benefits result from Waterloo (p 73) decries spending on a new station where there are two stations already and iA proposes a tram route! There are too many credibility gaps.
The area will have three north-south transit routes plus roads, and none in the critically-congested east-south corridors. That is what you call a real inverted outcome!
At the beginning, GSC was advised that its methodology was flawed, and now - through Bankstown, Crows Nest and Waterloo - it is proven dangerous and counter-productive.
The current announcements show that MTR is milking the Metro, having lost along Bankstown and burning in Crows Nest. Stokes decided the issue on interests, with SydUni failing to use professional logic.
There is existing congestion and there will be insufficient transit to avoid growing - out of control - congestion.
Was it smart politics to have a consultation date weeks before the State Election? Yes, about as smart as Roberts' and Berejiklian's "decisions" usually are. Only NewLocal is protecting the community. (North Shore Times 7 March '17)
Berejiklian and Baird used the BIG LIES of "transformative" and "congestion busting" when marketing the pre-planned metro succession of blunders (see https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/sydneybetrayals.me/18) and dragging in the willing co-conspirators, PM Turnbull and Ministers and his agencies especially DIRD and its iA:
Better options are in EDDINGTON BEDROCK in the adjoining tab. The timelines and contexts have been explained more fully in the tab Crypto-Fascism 2012.