The New South Wales Opposition is accusing Premier Gladys Berejiklian of covering up the real reason behind a $549 million cost blowout in Sydney’s light rail project.
Labor said Ms Berejiklian’s comments as transport minister in 2014 that the overspend was due to customer service improvements was incorrect, in light of a recently released Auditor General’s Report.
The report revealed that while part of the increase was due to scope changes and planning modifications, “$517 of the $549 million inflation was because of mispricing and omissions in the business case”.
Labor’s transport spokeswoman Jodi MacKay said the Premier was advised of this in a document given to her in late 2014, two months before she gave her comments on the blowout.
“We know that information [Premier’s 2014 comments] was incorrect, she refuses to answer the question — did she know the real reason [for the cost blow out],” Ms MacKay said.
“Labor is calling on the Premier to release the document in parliament today and admit if she lied.”
The Auditor General’s report said in November 2013, the project was estimated to cost $1.6 billion but the budget rose $549 million to $2.1 billion by December 2014.
“It goes to her integrity. At the moment everything we know and everything we’ve seen points to her wilfully misleading the community and that is a serious allegation,” Ms Mackay said.
‘I’ve always been upfront’: Premier
The Premier defended her transparency about the costs of the project and said it was not up to her to release the documents Labor requested.
“I have always been upfront about this important project, Ms Berejiklian said.
“I am very proud of the CBD South East Light Rail project, which will boost public transport capacity and make commuting more reliable.”
Both Labor and the Greens called on the Premier to release the document in parliament today and admit if she lied.
“She has the chance to clean this up, parliament is sitting today, she has the opportunity to tell the community the truth, yet she has refused to do that despite numerous requests,” Ms McKay said.
NSW Greens MP and transport spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, described the Premier’s actions as “calculated” and “incompetent”.
“People have had enough of these falsehoods, secrecy and now these deliberate cover-ups,” Dr Faruqi said.