The deterioration in "due diligence", also known as "Treasury Regs", has been documented throughout this website and at https://sydneybetrayals.me/morrisons-faux-bubbles/ and nearby. It started under PM Howard in the 1990s and accelerated under Labor in NSW from 2006 and Federally from 2015 under PM Turnbull and his Motley Crew.
No masthead has analysed and reported on this trend. The ABC's Stateline and Four Corners did major exposes of Labor's Metromania in 2009, but Stateline was rubbed out and Four Corners now eschews the topic.
These notes complement other pages on this website e.g. Josh’s woes. At the foot is a position statement from 14 Nov '17 which was emailed to NSW and Federal Parliamentarians, to show how much time and money have been wasted due to silent ignorance.
Infrastructure Australia was set up in 2008 to conduct health checks on Australian cities after two previous periods of national reform (Uren and Howe); but there is a growing realisation that city assets are ageing and too inflexible and money is being wasted on replacing viable systems and not funding “missing links”.
There were to be comparisons with trends against international exemplars, an overall plan, asset appraisals, investment rules, and guided grants and subsidies. It was chaired by a city transformational leader, Sir Rod Eddington. It lived in a political context and former PM Tony Abbott attacked its sponsoring Minister’s first decision round as over-political and with some 25 illegitimate projects.
On Feb 22, 2011 then PM Abbott gave a major speech in Perth which included the following words:
A subsequent National Audit Office report found that before Infrastructure Australia had come to any conclusions about the 28 “pipeline” projects that it had identified, the government had already announced funding for 10 of them.
The Board composition was always questionable. Mixing proponents and inspectors within a closed room is neither a good idea nor necessary: there was a strong integrative non-statutory committee in NSW from about 1974called CUMPTAC, URTAC and then TRANSAC within the Ministry of Transport.
It had no lobbyists or other urgers near it but met with proponents in open manner when necessary (such as TNT and Brambles as well as the TWU). TRANSAC was gone by 1995 when Bruce Baird MP suggested its return.
One prominent Australian sat on the board of Infrastructure Australia, which has to assess State proposals, and on the board of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, which pushes States and Federal governments in various directions, and in particular supported the CBD Metro that was savaged by iA, and on Treasury and on Moorebank (supplicant and debtor to Treasury, owned by Feds).
The contrary directions that the NSW Government is moving in versus the Federal concern over reducing congestion suggests this situation might re-occur in which case there would be a conflict, ceteris paribus.
Turnbull removed that conflict, against Albanese’s objections, after this analyst pointed out a cascade of such conflicts – with no attribution or payment by Turnbull. He left the head of the Federal Department on the Infra Partnerships Aust Board, wrongly, so that when he removed Mrdak from DIRD, we had both the past and current heads on the board at the same time. I am most unimpressed that the former head of iA, Sir Rod Eddington, is now IPA’s chief safecracker.
Infrastructure Australia has an important role to play but it has made serious errors since Sir Rod Eddington’s departure in 2014 – apparently then in appeasement of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and the NSW Premier, with the PM supporting the WestConnex, Metro and tram ideas without apparently being briefed on process defects including non-consideration of options.
Reform ideas have been prepared by a correspondent to John Menadue’s blog, by Professor Derek Scrafton and by me – but iA is steadfastly isolationist.
iA’s recent update to its Priority List was greeted by inexpert journalists but the usual defects remained –
When the Greater Sydney Commission was being protected by Turnbull through a concocted “30-Minute” “cloak of invisibility”, one of my major criticisms was lack of proper options- and scenario-testing. iA stole that idea and published a further cloak, the Sydney “Future Cities Paper”. Its conclusions were based on defective assumptions, as published at the time:
City Deals are now mainstream, starting with Turnbull’s and Baird’s betrayals of the Illawarra, SW and W Sydney, the Aerotropolis and re-balancing of population to reduce congestion – the greatest act of stupidity and corruption of due process in Australian history, something iA is totally blind to.
As Professor Richard Tomlinson said in response to the PM’s/Baird’s announcement:
That topic is the third pamphlet in the “Save Sydney” trilogy.
Greiner’s iNSW produced First Things First in October 2012. That February, Infrastructure Australia (supported by iNSW) had questioned
Whatever the respective merits of argument in the paper warfare were, that represented a critical crack in NSW’s planning credibility. iNSW’s Board was full of heavy-hitters and it produced very interesting material that, in a mature democracy, would have produced a signature debate. There were also contentious elements. That same month the Daily Telegraph published
"Liberal bromance" between BOF/Baird/Berejiklian and Greiner has finished”
[Greiner/iNSW suggested the NW should be busways until patronage justified heavy investment (the result of repeated Treasury assessments); also that the 2nd Crossing could be deferredand George St trams stopped. [The metromaniacs ruled: BOF sided with Gladys and smirked when Greiner announced his departure from the iNSW chair.]
That anal attitude to community views, that poisonous culture of self-interest as Kennett described it in 2010, started in the 1980s according to former Directors-General Bruce Loder and Richard Smyth, with further degradation through the de-skilling of senior executive ranks and politicisation of ministerial officers (with access to lobbies), this according to the venerable Gerry Gleeson and others.
At the time, these notes were also circulated:
It was observed that:
Baird’s and Berejiklian’s port privatisation agenda from 2013 corrupted competition principles; while the Turnbull Government’s “initiatives” have had disastrous “unintended consequences”. As in other crises, they then refused to amend and correct their mistakes which will have unacceptable levels of intergenerational costs. They are rushing to cement the path, imperilling productive capacity at all three of NSW’s major ports in a perverted attempt to protect owners’ interests at Port Botany and Moorebank.
Another of Turnbull's cloaks was the iA Calfas Panel which endorsed social contracts in theory and smashed them in reality through monopoly protections and community interventions of heavy trucks and airport operations. GSC endorsed it just as the Panel endorsed City Deals - a nice little nasty. (See the file below.)
Not one agency has done the analysis that is required to re-plan Sydney’s thin port capacities to cover an end-demand some three times the total of their potentials. The two-thirds will be coming from Parkes. A world-class IMT operation is needed in or near Eastern Creek (my argument for 18 years). The economics of Inland Rail require full integration across cities and regions – it faces enough trouble ‘n’ strife without having Kembla and Newcastle sterilised.
There is no MSB authority that prepares proper plans and reports-back on performance data: TfNSW does not do that and it is definitely not independent of Ministerial capriciousness. It has demonstrated its engineering incompetence across the full spectrum of modes and issues.
The first full flowering was Bruce Baird's Integrated Transport Strategy in 1995 with its “Ghost Train” to KSA and ideology-driven freeways. Its tram, albeit a dysfunctional compromise, was saved by Federal Labor's Brian Howe!
iNSW was the promised repair. This dispute was the end of Cartwight’s hopes and the effective invalidation of iNSW as not once since have they challenged Berejiklian’s policy imperatives. This was simultaneous with the takeover of previously independent professional bodies by metro-and-crane cheerleaders, which Turnbull exploited, so that lobbies, professions and apparatchiks shared the same flow of Treasury gold coins.
This file is about as devastating as any critique of a multi-agency and tri-governmental industry sector you'll get - and of course it was totally ignored by Those Whom Be Terminated.
(Submitted to promote discussion. Contents including suggestions are ©
and not to be used for governmental or political uses)
Since the last send, SNAFU has continued:
* The mess looks like this, all without an electoral mandate. Godzilla could not do worse
Nor would have Wran or Greiner. Nick publicly wondered about the privatisation of public policy-writing, which is what this author has to do because the Federal/State Metro groupthink “club” has insufficient “nous and humility”.
[I did not expect such a disaster of a City Deal, I regret I was so gentle on it]
NSW’s two un-elected agencies need no encouragement to push the “ideology & stupidity” projects across Sydney, in the Government’s jumble of capricious Ministerial announcements, political intimidation, destructive project management, inequitable proposed taxation, and growing community disaffection and cynicism. The “critical issues” seem to be:
So Sydney has a set of dud projects that will serve a small percentage of 800,000 or so new dwellings over just 15 years, under a planning regime that has no rigour or Eddington-type logic. The election run-up will feature demolitions, dispossessions, service interruptions, and revelations of secret deals, cost overruns and recycled promises – the components of Labor’s “planning stench” (BOF).
Add to this the analysis I gave backbenchers in mid-July in correct anticipation of the growing mayhem in Sydney:
The Sydney Press is full of reports on the escalating costs of the West Harbour-to-Balgowlah road tunnel, the West Metro, WestConnex, and tramways in the East and West. All of these serve existing urban populations which enjoy subsidised service levels exceeding regional populations’.
None of those projects has been through feasibility and business case testing in accordance with iA and iNSW standards – you can assume I have produced the analyses that back up that conclusion. In particular, options testing between substantive options to ideological best-guesses has not been done at all.
In the Metro case, so many mistakes were made and unnecessary costs imposed through the demolition of over 50 major buildings to build underground stations next to existing stations, the reconstruction of suburban stations and tracks to allow herding structures on quiet platforms – because the wrong vehicles were chosen, and closing of lines for up to 12 months for the same reason – contrary to Christie and Greiner recommendations – that the lack of proper planning and assessment has
“undercut public confidence in governments’ ability to make the best investment decisions. This makes it harder to build community support for future investments and complex reforms that will be required to meet Australia’s infrastructure needs. The consequences of oversights can be substantial….” (iA).
The “Peace Plan” I gave the PM at that time represents “low cost and high yield” as Eddington and Greiner said – and more than that, as it relies on iA disciplines, solves impending political thunderstorms. I’m still waiting for a reply.