Bridge case wait

In­fra­struc­ture body warn­ing on de­lay

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID BENIUK

A FI­NAL busi­ness case for the new $576 mil­lion Bridgewater cross­ing will be sub­mit­ted in com­ing weeks, as In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia warns too many projects are be­ing funded with­out one.

The Turn­bull and Hodg- man Gov­ern­ments com­mit­ted to the long-awaited bridge this year, with a time frame to have it com­pleted by 2024.

Es­ti­mates com­mit­tees heard a fi­nal busi­ness case for the cross­ing re­mained out­stand­ing af­ter a draft was sub­mit­ted to In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia last year.

The State Govern­ment is adamant it will be lodged soon and that a plan­ning team is be­ing as­sem­bled.

“The ver­i­fied busi­ness case will be lodged with In­fras­truc- ture Aus­tralia in com­ing weeks,” a govern­ment spokes­woman said.

“Work is also un­der way to es­tab­lish a ded­i­cated team to con­duct the com­plex de­sign, plan­ning and ap­provals phase of the new bridge project.”

The Fed­eral Govern­ment pledged $461 mil­lion — 80 per cent of the project’s funds — in its May bud­get, with State Trea­surer Peter Gutwein adding $115 mil­lion in his bud­get in June.

The State Bud­get in­cluded $6 mil­lion of joint fund­ing in 2018-19 to get a project team started on the de­sign.

Con­struc­tion is sched­uled to be­gin in 2021-22 and be com­pleted in 2024.

Fed­eral La­bor leader Bill Shorten pledged $100 mil­lion to get the project started be­fore the Lib­eral Gov­ern­ments stumped up the full amount.

The fi­nal busi­ness case will ar­rive as In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia warns about gov­ern­ments jump­ing the gun with funds for ma­jor projects.

In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia Chief ex­ec­u­tive Philip Davies re­cently sug­gested the body’s list of goals was be­ing politi­cised.

“Too of­ten we are still see­ing in­stances of projects be­ing com­mit­ted to be­fore a busi­ness case has been pre­pared, a full set of op­tions has been con­sid­ered, and rig­or­ous anal­y­sis of a po­ten­tial project’s ben­e­fits and costs has been un­der­taken,” Mr Davies said.

Op­po­si­tion in­fra­struc­ture spokesman David O’Byrne said the State Govern­ment should have com­pleted the full busi­ness case.

“The State Govern­ment clearly hadn’t done the work so the Fed­eral Govern­ment made the an­nounce­ment to get this State Govern­ment out of jail on in­ac­tion around the bridge,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“Now they’re scram­bling to get to­gether the work that should have been done years ago.”

Mr O’Byrne said the project risked run­ning over time and blow­ing out in cost.

The Hodg­man Govern­ment has re­leased a 10-year, $13.9 bil­lion in­fra­struc­ture plan, and promised a 30-year in­fra­struc­ture strat­egy.

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