After ongoing calls for an audit of WestConnnex by the public and The Greens, The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the federal funding and concessional loan to WestConnex.
The submission by Senators Janet Rice, Lee Rhiannon and Jenny Leong is here.
The objective of this audit is to assess whether appropriate steps were taken to protect the Commonwealth's interests and obtain value for money in respect to the $3.5 billion in Commonwealth funding committed to the NSW Government for the WestConnex project.
The Greens believe that the decision to commit public funds to the WestConnex project was premature and motivated by political gain and that the federal government's allocation of public funds to WestConnex was made without any real impartial or independent assessment according to the proper processes and good governance protocols that were in place.
The terms of reference for this audit are:
- Was the Commonwealth's decision to make a financial commitment to the project informed by appropriate advice and made through the processes that have been established to assess the merits of nationally significant infrastructure investments?
- Were the decisions to approve the commitment of $1.5 billion in direct Commonwealth funding, and make respective milestone payments to date, informed by appropriate advice?
- Was the decision to enter into a $2 billion concessional loan arrangement with the NSW Government informed by appropriate advice?
- Do the terms of the concessional loan arrangements represent value for money and protect the Commonwealth's interests?
The NSW and Australian Greens submission can be read here.
Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon said, “A project of this cost, scope and community impact requires rigorous planning and budgeting and scrupulous independent review mechanisms and WestConnex has had none of this.
“It is negligent of the federal government to not consider the deficient business case or lack of independent assessment before committing public funds to the project.
“The Greens submit that the terms of the concessional loan arrangement did not represent value for money and did not take into sufficient consideration the interests of the Commonwealth.
“The affected community has been calling for this funding decision to be closely examined, and the Auditor General’s review gives us a chance to see exactly how the federal Coalition government came to the decision to throw billions of taxpayer dollars at this mega road.”