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STOP PRESS: revelation of targetted deceit and distortion in a relevant recent history of “transformative” events

© RG


This page asks a traditional question: how would our Australian democracy protect us from a “Hitler” – a smooth-talking nationalist whose motives appear to be honest but whose effect on our society is pernicious? 


Something is happening in Sydney that might well see a judicial commission running in many countries’ anti-corruption (not “political”?) systems, including the Peoples Republic of China’s (see for example https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/world/asia/china-whitney-duan-weihong.html), given: 

Senior politicians who have a background in foreign corporates relaxed electoral, Parliamentary and process protocols such that the corporates gained privileged access to national legacy assets which are transferred to the corporates. This was a closed “club” of lobbyists, politicians and executives

  • “Rule of law” sentry posts like Treasury are replaced by compliant, “value blind” acolytes of the Club leaders
  • Local parliaments find that society-based nation-building priorities (“of Menzies”) like “reduce congestion” and “improve housing affordability” are replaced by corporate priorities like “how many housing units can we sell?”
  • the Club gifts a consultancy to buddies but not on a competitive basis, no siree, the reward is pre-determined to be $100 million for a job worth 1/199th of that amount and producing even less value – in my opinion
  • · Local “canaries in the mine” are ostracised and even brutalised, their citizens’ rights negated without murmur by the otherwise most-vocal of “Menzies defenders”, their “reform proposals” suppressed but their ideas pilfered without fair payment.


Is it now happening? 


The leader of the Sydney cabal, l’enfant terrible, has revealed that she deceived our communities in dealing with foreign corporates over the transfer of assets under just such relaxed protocols. Outcomes are shielded by the shininess of the corporate toys. The deception was strategic and is on-going. Reform ideas are suppressed.


The central cabal of like-minded club members can say, but these other fine people agreed with me! There is no national corruption watchdog and the local one which started on a Hong Kong basis under then reforming Premier Nick Greiner, is now toothless and unloved by even the said Greiner. 

And what does the standard-bearer newspaper, under new proprietors,  say about that? – hit me with it again, we love it. How very Orwellian if not how very neo-Soviet!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How the NW Metro became a reality – Saulwick & O’Sullivan, SMH 27 May ’18 –


Last of a random sequence of mutterings, including whether “metro train” is the right label but minimal analytical value, over the last 10 years or so. The NW Metro was the second Berejiklian blunder (after the cancellation of the Parra-Epping Link), and she continued on that path through trams, taxes, routes, land releases, extraordinary road and rail tunnels, multiple fast trains and metastasising metros, strangled ports, and even a cruise liner terminal against KSA’s N/S runways. 


But several Herald journos have written that she “can be proud of her record”. Berejiklian has not just rejected every independent idea, including Greiner’s from 2012, but is allowed to go so far as to commit $4 billion to a stub road from nowhere to nowhere to avoid the $1 billion Goanna Transit Bridge even though her poorly-planned WestConnex is wrecking innerwest congestion. She has shrunk funds to every major congestion project in PM Morrison’s own electorate. 


Is there anything to be proud of? The same is true of the Federal Government which is still shovelling money at dysfunctional metro ideas especially as under the WS City Deal (which will suffocate Inland Rail and Port Kembla, Illawarra and South West commuting, Western coal exports, and world-class transit services to Badgerys). The Turnbull-cum-Morrison mantra is all Berejiklian first, and economics and community last.


The two journalists have represented their piece as an analytical overview, going back to Christie and the 2011 election.  They made egregious mistakes of facts and interpretation, including*:


  • They say, Berejiklian decided several weeks after the 2011 election (e.g. April) to proceed with a metro instead of North West Rail Line (heavy rail);  but did not see that she lied from then to June 2012 – the NWRL planning application was lodged in December ’11 and in May ’12 Berejiklian was still fighting the Feds over moving Parra-Epping money to the NWRL. She ignored long-standing Treasury advice and especially the only professional analysis of long-distance metros, Treasury’s commissioning of Jim Steer in 2008, with his conclusion that the Labor NW Metro would impair the economic welfare of the region (benefit/cost ratio at about 0.5). The “Summary Business Case” had 110 (100%) redactions and no revelation of real estate trading or regional benefits, although Transport Minister Constance panicked and anticipated high land taxes (counter-productive) and $ billions in subsidies to private hotels at Central Station. There is a suggestion of subsiding the PRC-owned MTR Metro r/e speculator;  and the Daily Telegraph over-inflated train numbers by 4 times, while Greiner under-stated double-decker comparisons by 95% – what a pack of blunderers.
  • Les Wielinga was quoted as an expert but he was from Roads, not Transport, had masterminded spatial strangulation (forced transfers) of roads near tollways and George St buses near the CBD tram, and was rejected by his former boss, Ron Christie (and a lot of others). He left iNSW that August because Greiner was not enthusiastic about the CBD trams and 2nd Harbour Crossing – Greiner was right, Wielinga was embarrassed on 4 Corners
  • Berejiklian is praised as the impetus to achievement but all of her ideas are straight out of Labor’s cupboard, every single one. She has spuriously snuck back-in Epping/Parra in a freight plan and the ANZAC Metro even where the ES tram now squats. Every idea comes out of nowhere sane, is too expensive, too risky and too long-term, and about as useful as an abacus to a Great White shark. There is no real GIPA, no real engagement and no sense of fairness (Aussie or not). It all has a totalitarian tone.
  • They referred to “a road basis”. In fact, iNSW was pushing Bus Rapid Transit until usage built, deferral of metros in line with Christie’s 2001 logic (impeccable), and (RG’s) circulated proposal based on Jacana 1998 to shift rail traffic out of the centre along a mid-orbital line – Christie and RG calculated together that that would remove about a third of trains through the CBD and Bridge and eliminate the need for a 2nd Harbour Crossing (for 20 years or forever). There was also the possible option of using the eastern tracks on the Bridge (Cahill Expressway). Berejiklian has never looked at options, not once.


Extracting their themes:


1. Clever politics

  1. Berejiklian negotiated through BOF against sceptical experts but the reality was she attacked Greiner in the media, exerted her political rights over planning logic, and engaged in heavy conflict and planning idiocy – cascading “decisions” to repair the previous knee-jerk iterations, with no business case or needs analysis. The result is a “network” that has no network plan and indeed is as over-concentrated (funnelled) at the centre as the 19th Century railways, how clever is that! Berejiklian ignored Christie/iNSW/RG analyses of the advantages of the heavy rail system on a regional basis – Main West, Parra/Epping, Badgerys (RG later);  and the journalists are not on the planet. She promised inclusion of the Illawarra line (June 2012) but on investigation that was not possible – another sign of sloppy and unprofessional pre-planning. Gibbons suggested a way of doing both, but again Berejiklian rejects all outsiders
  2. The centri-axial pattern of metros (contrary to Christie’s of 2001) came from the Tourism and Transport Forum’s “Compact” (2006/08); as reinforced by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia whose director was Staples’ main spruiker before and after Keneally cancelled Labor’s metro fiasco (the latter, as a public servant, chaired IPA’s transport committee). TTF and IPA are co-located and co-incidental. That director left IPA in late 2017 and sits in KPMG awaiting largesse (the director of Lucy Turnbull’s (recently departed from there)  Committee for Sydney did the same thing, at about the same time, and sits similarly in ARUP.)
  3. The journalists acknowledged that the reduced radius of the NW tunnel was controversial but failed to mention that was scumbaggery of the worst type, just after taking two metro advocates onto her personal staff. This was deceitful, the opposite of professional.
  4. Baird as Treasurer not mentioned but he scythed project guidelines off to iNSW on a “business case discipline” then put Gaetjens on iNSW and did not insist on Berejiklian’s where she did not comply – which remains 100% of cases. iNSW is a closed circuit under the Minister for Infrastructure who was Baird after he became Premier (and has been the Minister for Transport since). Baird = Berejiklian = Constance = Bairdijiklian.
  5. The implicit politics were centred on the negation of the Rail Tram & Bus Union. The metro was the wrong way to go as it caused untold and unmeasured damage to the Bradfield CityRail system and to overall congestion reduction and housing affordability. The metro is political rather than proportional to needs.


2. Direction


a. Berejiklian said that the NW Metro would be stand-alone. In fact she did not understand and indeed prevaricated between the two opposites, namely saying stand-alone would deny system benefits or the reverse. The former is indeed the case with the Metro causing a breakdown in special events and disaster recovery capacities.


3. Patronage

a. Baird said explicitly he would make the Metro work on the basis of “the Baird model” – r/e proceeds feeding back to infrastructure financing. That model is smashed along the Bankstown line and on the North Shore. The metromaniacs are still pushing the dead cat, SMH on board.

b. The cost of capital on the line is $15.5 million a week which translates to 3.1 million passengers per week – but, again, the Summary Business Case was empty of numbers and Constance broke his promise to provide them


4. Route

a. No mention of the fact that there was no logic for the Bankstown line as found by both Christie and Greiner. The East Hills line was most needy, Bankstown the very least. The SMH questioned this only once as Saulwick wrote he lived on the Bankstown line - but that theme did not recrudesce. Gibbons pointed out that East Hills and different vehicles would allow the NW to transit to the KSA and CBD without a 2nd Crossing if the Government listened to his logic.


5. System design

a. Berejiklian knew not of the logic of moving operations onto a matrix basis and thus imposed tight limits on overall system capacity as it passes through a central choke point. Based on TTFs incompetent Compact, this is an international disgrace.


Deceit

  1. Process – secretive, camouflaged, illegitimate
  2. Purpose – illicit, not centred on customers and real travel needs
  3. Plagiarism – stole RG’s ideas for economies on the Bankstown Line and so she will be hounded to Hell and so will all who sail in her. SMH journalists have shamefully not regarded this as worth discussing.

* gaps are in bold, errors in normal font


In particular, Herald and other journos show no understanding of the value of quality needs analyses. 


Making infrastructure funding a real debate: the truth about Rebuild NSW


There are daily Parliamentary and media debates about such commitments as the Inland Rail Bridge, urban metro and road works including tunnels (in most cities), and the adequacy of NDIS budgets. These amount to the usual good-governance challenge of using available funds wisely, and seeking more funds only when justified.


The most famous urban program in Australia now is the NSW Government’s North West to CBD and South West Metro: a stated cost $23 billion and with uncalculated consequential damage to the Bradfield rail lines that the Metro duplicates.


It was one of the signature features of the “con job” (“stench”, “fiasco” in then Coalition Premier O’Farrell’s words) that the successive Labor metromeisters in the 2000s foisted on NSW that their favoured projects were “fully funded”.


The Bairdian Governments made much of the $20 billion Restart NSW allocation which “is only possible by releasing capital locked up in the leased electricity network businesses (poles and wires)” that would help metros, hospitals, schools, water security and regions affected by mining and even the Zoo to improve their competitiveness and productivity. The Overview of the 2016 Budget stated that the disposition would be:

  

· $8.9 billion to urban public   transport

· $6 billion in total for regional works

· $2.4 billion for urban roads


· $1 billion each for water,   education and health

· $0.1 billion for corridor reservation


Total  $20 billion


$8.9 billion raised an automatic alarm bell with this analyst - which should have rung on every newspaper editor’s desk. Public references had clearly implied that the proceeds from privatisation of poles and wires would allow the Metro’s tunnel under the Harbour and extension to Bankstown. Baird’s press release of 11 June ’14 said this:


The NSW Government will unlock $20 billion in infrastructure funding, including $6 billion for regional NSW, by undertaking a long-term lease ... For Sydney, the centrepiece will be a new Sydney Rapid Transit line, including a second harbour rail crossing and extending the NW Rail Link through the CBD and beyond to Bankstown.


The PR of the following 4 June ’15 included these words:


  • Sydney’s much-needed second harbour rail crossing will become a reality now that funding has been secured for the NSW Government’s $20 billion Rebuilding NSW plan ... this is a mega congestion busting project ...”.
  • We’ll come back to that $20 billion and $8.9 billion. What is the situation with the “con job”: has Labor’s recrudesced along with their Metro lines?  or is there a new standard of accountability and efficiency (as announced when Restart and Rebuilding were created)?
  • The Metro bill alone, excluding WestConnex and the many associated road works including at least three new road tunnels, and trams, amounts to $9 billion from the NW to the tunnel, and $14 billion to Bankstown. That sub-total of $23 billion has to have $6 billion added to regions (even that is not yet a reality), making a for-example and totally minimum total, for veracity, of $29 billion.
  • On the receipts side, which is the source of the Rebuilding fund, Treasury presented the privatisation windfall as being $34.071 billion gross, which is happily in excess of the costs, right?
  • No it isn’t. The first tranche, Transgrid, yielded $10 billion gross but $7 billion nett. The second, Ausgrid yielded $16 billion gross but only $6 billion nett. The third, Endeavour, sold for $7.624 billion but only $2.9 billion nett.
  • $29 billion has to be compared with an actual $15.9 billion, a 50% shortfall, if the Government is to be more truthful than Labor was, even without the millstone of WestConnex. 
  • Further, $20 billion is not in the Rebuilding fund from the lease-out, the number is $15.9 billion. The $8.9 billion is more than 60% short of the metro’s $23 billion.
  • “CBD to Bankstown” is a misnomer as it is actually “North Shore to Bankstown” with the Tunnel alone said to probably cost $10 billion – making the total of $14 billion for new and reconstructed stations seem low. (“Optimistic” cost assumptions were attacked in the Grattan Institute’s “Cost overruns in transport infrastructure” in October 2016.)
  • Also, on at least one occasion Baird said about $1 billion would come from the Federal Government as a bonus for asset realisation. The Turnbull Government axed that scheme and no reference to an actual payment has been found. (Berejiklian has mentioned a $2 billion payment which is likely to be the Federal subsidy for WestConnex which is not relevant here.) 
  • Foregone revenue has been said to be about $1.5 billion per year which amounts to a Present Value of $10.54 billion over 10 years at 7%. This is a “cost” from the funding stream that has to be booked to the funding purpose – the Metros etc.

¬…

It is known that the Metros will damage the financial and operational viability of the Bradfield rail system and the institutions and communities that reply on them. Such costs have not been included in the Business Cases and will be of material significance, possibly to a critical level.


Berejiklian’s (former) Strategy director wrote an adverse story in The Australian on 11 February ’16, that ACIL Allen had disproven Baird’s claims that the privatisation would deliver $300 billion over 20 years in increased State productivity – the increase in congestion and discrepancies with population and employment projections would reduce travel time claimed benefits (“nonsense on stilts”).


Three conclusions seem to be reasonable in this context: 


· First, Berejiklian’s Government is not more honest than Labor, including misstating the total funds available and making false claims of lease-out proceeds against even a small sample of intents. The shortfalls of 50% and 60% and in regional allocations are serious indicators of ongoing “stench” instead of competency

· Second, Berejiklian’s subsequent insistence on a West Metro (at the cost of losing the GOOGLE icon at White Bay over frustration) at a conservative $10 billion and 10 years’ delay while forsaking a cheaper and faster way to deliver a “Glebe Island-White Bay tech precinct to rival London’s Tech City, New York’s Roosevelt Island and even California’s Silicon Valley”, is in the same class as Carr’s and après-Carr reckless promises, recycled press releases and broken credibility; and

· Third, the failure to meet accepted standards of project assessment and the exclusion of consequential damage to the Bradfield heritage rail system means that Restart’s metro and associated tunnel actual or theoretical funds should not be expended until it is known what the contingent liability from the Bradfield degradation will be. This is a “Catch-22” that is consequential to ideology-based decisionmaking that is so decried by PM Turnbull. The risk is real, that the rare and precious proceeds of the lease-out of poles-n-wires will be wasted, added to the weird damage to the Bradfield system and its stakeholders.


Taking this sourcing overview with the parallel critiques of poor outcomes from the Metro’s operational and housing aspects, of misleading business cases, and of iA mistakes, produces the conclusion that that those politicians, officials, agencies, councils, lobbies and media who accepted the metro mantas had learnt little or nothing over some 20 years of controversial transport and land use non-planning.


Making infrastructure funding a real debate: the truth about Rebuild NSW


There are daily Parliamentary and media debates about such commitments as the Inland Rail Bridge, urban metro and road works including tunnels (in most cities), and the adequacy of NDIS budgets. These amount to the usual good-governance challenge of using available funds wisely, and seeking more funds only when justified.


The most famous urban program in Australia now is the NSW Government’s North West to CBD and South West Metro: a stated cost $23 billion and with uncalculated consequential damage to the Bradfield rail lines that the Metro duplicates.


It was one of the signature features of the “con job” (“stench”, “fiasco” in then Coalition Premier O’Farrell’s words) that the successive Labor metromeisters in the 2000s foisted on NSW that their favoured projects were “fully funded”.


The Bairdian Governments made much of the $20 billion Restart NSW allocation which “is only possible by releasing capital locked up in the leased electricity network businesses (poles and wires)” that would help metros, hospitals, schools, water security and regions affected by mining and even the Zoo to improve their competitiveness and productivity. The Overview of the 2016 Budget stated that the disposition would be:

  

· $8.9 billion to urban public   transport

· $6 billion in total for regional works

· $2.4 billion for urban roads


· $1 billion each for water,   education and health

· $0.1 billion for corridor reservation

Total  $20 billion

$8.9 billion raised an automatic alarm bell with this analyst - which should have rung on every newspaper editor’s desk. Public references had clearly implied that the proceeds from privatisation of poles and wires would allow the Metro’s tunnel under the Harbour and extension to Bankstown. Baird’s press release of 11 June ’14 said this:


The NSW Government 

will unlock $20 billion in infrastructure funding, including $6 billion for regional NSW, by undertaking a long-term lease ... For Sydney, the centrepiece will be a new Sydney Rapid Transit line, including a second harbour rail crossing and extending the NW Rail Link through the CBD and beyond to Bankstown.


The PR of the following 4 June ’15 included these words:


Sydney’s much-needed second harbour rail crossing will become a reality now that funding has been secured for the NSW Government’s $20 billion Rebuilding NSW plan ... this is a mega congestion busting project ...”.

We’ll come back to that $20 billion and $8.9 billion. What is the situation with the “con job”: has Labor’s recrudesced along with their Metro lines?  or is there a new standard of accountability and efficiency (as announced when Restart and Rebuilding were created)?


The Metro bill alone, excluding WestConnex and the many associated road works including at least three new road tunnels, and trams, amounts to $9 billion from the NW to the tunnel, and $14 billion to Bankstown. That sub-total of $23 billion has to have $6 billion added to regions (even that is not yet a reality), making a for-example and totally minimum total, for veracity, of $29 billion.


On the receipts side, which is the source of the Rebuilding fund, Treasury presented the privatisation windfall as being $34.071 billion gross, which is happily in excess of the costs, right?


No it isn’t. The first tranche, Transgrid, yielded $10 billion gross but $7 billion nett. The second, Ausgrid yielded $16 billion gross but only $6 billion nett. The third, Endeavour, sold for $7.624 billion but only $2.9 billion nett.

$29 billion has to be compared with an actual $15.9 billion, a 50% shortfall, if the Government is to be more truthful than Labor was, even without the millstone of WestConnex. 


Further, $20 billion is not in the Rebuilding fund from the lease-out, the number is $15.9 billion. The $8.9 billion is more than 60% short of the metro’s $23 billion.


“CBD to Bankstown” is a misnomer as it is actually “North Shore to Bankstown” with the Tunnel alone said to probably cost $10 billion – making the total of $14 billion for new and reconstructed stations seem low. (“Optimistic” cost assumptions were attacked in the Grattan Institute’s “Cost overruns in transport infrastructure” in October 2016.)


Also, on at least one occasion Baird said about $1 billion would come from the Federal Government as a bonus for asset realisation. The Turnbull Government axed that scheme and no reference to an actual payment has been found. (Berejiklian has mentioned a $2 billion payment which is likely to be the Federal subsidy for WestConnex which is not relevant here.) 


Foregone revenue has been said to be about $1.5 billion per year which amounts to a Present Value of $10.54 billion over 10 years at 7%. This is a “cost” from the funding stream that has to be booked to the funding purpose – the Metros etc.

¬…

It is known that the Metros will damage the financial and operational viability of the Bradfield rail system and the institutions and communities that reply on them. Such costs have not been included in the Business Cases and will be of material significance, possibly to a critical level.

Berejiklian’s (former) Strategy director wrote an adverse story in The Australian on 11 February ’16, that ACIL Allen had disproven Baird’s claims that the privatisation would deliver $300 billion over 20 years in increased State productivity – the increase in congestion and discrepancies with population and employment projections would reduce travel time claimed benefits (“nonsense on stilts”).


Three conclusions seem to be reasonable in this context: 


· First, Berejiklian’s Government is not more honest than Labor, including misstating the total funds available and making false claims of lease-out proceeds against even a small sample of intents. The shortfalls of 50% and 60% and in regional allocations are serious indicators of ongoing “stench” instead of competency


· Second, Berejiklian’s subsequent insistence on a West Metro (at the cost of losing the GOOGLE icon at White Bay over frustration) at a conservative $10 billion and 10 years’ delay while forsaking a cheaper and faster way to deliver a “Glebe Island-White Bay tech precinct to rival London’s Tech City, New York’s Roosevelt Island and even California’s Silicon Valley”, is in the same class as Carr’s and après-Carr reckless promises, recycled press releases and broken credibility; and


· Third, the failure to meet accepted standards of project assessment and the exclusion of consequential damage to the Bradfield heritage rail system means that Restart’s metro and associated tunnel actual or theoretical funds should not be expended until it is known what the contingent liability from the Bradfield degradation will be. This is a “Catch-22” that is consequential to ideology-based decisionmaking that is so decried by PM Turnbull. The risk is real, that the rare and precious proceeds of the lease-out of poles-n-wires will be wasted, added to the weird damage to the Bradfield system and its stakeholders.


Taking this sourcing overview with the parallel critiques of poor outcomes from the Metro’s operational and housing aspects, of misleading business cases, and of iA mistakes, produces the conclusion that that those politicians, officials, agencies, councils, lobbies and media who accepted the metro mantas had learnt little or nothing over some 20 years of controversial transport and land use non-planning.