01/02/2013 - 12:37

Buswell, Wyatt clash on rail costs

01/02/2013 - 12:37


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Buswell, Wyatt clash on rail costs

The state government and opposition have questioned the true cost of each other’s major transport projects, with treasury costings for both parties’ plans still yet to be released despite months of promotion.

Opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt today lashed out at the government, claiming it had inappropriately used treasury to cost Labor’s Metronet rail project.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell says the project will cost $6.4 billion – well above the $3.8 billion cost estimated by Labor.

In contrast, Mr Buswell has been coy on the cost of the government’s own Metropolitan Area Express light rail project. The project has been heavily promoted through the government’s $1.5 million “big picture” advertising campaign.  

“We now have the farcical situation where (Premier Colin) Barnett is not having government election commitments costed by the Treasury, yet at the same time having Treasury cost WA Labor’s policies,” Mr Wyatt said in a statement.

“Given that WA Labor is now releasing the details of its Metronet policy, including specific routes, it is unclear how Treasury could have costed something when it did not know the detail, including specific routes and timing of construction.”

“In light of the fact that Liberal candidates are now campaigning on supposedly ‘independent’ costings by the Department of Treasury, Mr Barnett must immediately release these costings so that their ‘independence’ can be assessed and assumptions scrutinised.”

Mr Buswell, who is also the state's treasurer, says there is an $864 million "hole" in a major part of the Metronet project, a link to Perth Airport.

"I asked the PTA (Public Transport Authority) to look at a whole range of transport options ... but one we've looked at in particular ... is the link to the airport," he told Fairfax Radio on Friday.

"We've spent a lot of time in government working out the preferred route to the airport. We haven't made any announcements about it but we do have a preferred route."

Mr Buswell said he knew "damn well" that the airport rail plan, which would involve a line being built down Tonkin Highway and sinking it "effectively below the water table", was very expensive.

Labor estimates the 10.5km airport line will cost $731.5 million, not including rail cars, but Mr Buswell expects it will have a $1.595 billion price tag.

Mr Buswell said treasury would cost the party's proposal if it submitted detailed plans.

Treasury can cost opposition policies after the pre-election financial projection statements are released.

"The Labor party can submit their costings to the treasury - completely independent of the government - next Friday and treasury has a requirement under the caretaker conventions to provide that cost back to the Labor party within three days.

"They should do that."

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan this week called on the government to release its own costings for Metronet immediately.

"If they're using government resources to do that, release them," he said.

"We'd love to see them.

"Mr Buswell makes things up. He will have included in his costings the most expensive options available."


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