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Peter Walsh MP:
Labor’s Botched Basin Rail a "missed opportunity": VAGO

Cost blowouts have left the Basin Rail barely half finished.

By Portal Admin - 19th March 2020 - Back to News

A damning report on the Andrews Labor Government’s botched handling of the Murray Basin Rail Project has found it has "not met scope, time, cost or quality expectations".

The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) released its report on freight rail projects in Victoria today, finding cost blowouts have left the Basin Rail barely half finished – despite 86.7 per cent of the project’s budget ($381.5 million) being spent.

According to VAGO, "completion of the MBRP is a year overdue, with over twice the original budget now estimated as necessary to complete the project to its original approved scope" (VAGO, p33).

VAGO also found:

  1. Delays and cost overruns have worsened due to "ineffective contract management, project management and project execution by V/Line",
  2. Responses to the Federal Government’s requests for information from the Andrews Government "were not always forthright or timely", and;
  3. There is still no revised completion date for the Project.

Today in State Parliament, Labor’s Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan continued arrogantly refusing to take responsibility for derailing the now stalled Project.

The Minister also refused to confirm the remaining funds to finish the Basin Rail upgrades will be committed in the upcoming State Budget.

Ms Allan has had responsibility for the Basin Rail Project since December 2014 and previously spruiked to Parliament: "It has taken a Labor government to deliver this Murray Basin Rail Project, It has taken a Labor government to complete the business case".

The Basin Rail Project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to upgrade and standardize Victoria’s freight rail network. Its completion – in full – will deliver productivity and cost efficiencies for producers and transport stakeholders in north-west Victoria.

But the Andrews Labor Government has completely botched the project, severely slowing down trains and leaving key stakeholders saying they were better off before the project started.

Comment attributable to Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh

VAGO’s findings confirm the worst for producers and stakeholders in north-west Victoria – Labor has no plan and no money to get the Basin Rail project back on track.

The Minister’s extraordinary attempt to smear the credibility of the Auditor-General in Parliament shows she will go to any lengths to avoid taking responsibility for botching this transformational project.

The buck stops with Jacinta Allan. Excuses won’t fix the Minister’s mess.

If Jacinta Allan won’t take responsibility and get on with providing a revised business case to the Commonwealth, she must immediately hand over responsibility to a Minister who will.

Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for Transport Infrastructure David Davis

It’s time Jacinta Allan took responsibility for her failed project. It’s time she provided full information to the Commonwealth rather than hiding this critical information.

Less than half the project is completed and the outcomes for freight movements are disastrous. Jacinta Allan should hang her head in shame.


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