Prime Minister warned of safety risks posed by creation of $ 40 billion railway entity
The Herald previously revealed that senior transport officials feared that the creation of TAHE would repeat the carving up of New South Wales railways in the 1990s and the resulting gaps in responsibility for safety and investment, key factors in the rail disasters of 1999 at Glenbrook and 2003, which claimed the lives of 14 passengers.
Labor Treasury spokesman Daniel Mookhey said the confidential documents made it clear that Ms Berejiklian and Mr Constance were aware of the “TAHE budget trick” since its inception in 2014.
“The current Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport have turned a blind eye to two direct warnings that hiding billions of rail spending in the budget comes at the cost of increased risk to rail safety,” he said. he declared.
A whistleblower, who has intimate knowledge of TAHE, said the state transportation agency warned of the company early on, but the lure of billions of dollars on the state budget was convincing for the firm.
“TAHE is such a bad idea that most thought it would be closed before it opened, especially once the accounting rules were tightened, making TAHE effectively impractical,” the whistleblower said.
“The Treasury Board has left the cabinet in a very awkward position where the budget will be crushed, TAHE or not TAHE, with all their efforts now to try to hide the hole for a few more years.”
Further warnings regarding TAHE were made in a confidential KPMG report commissioned by Transport for NSW last year.
A spokeswoman for Mr Constance said concerns raised when forming TAHE had been resolved to the minister’s satisfaction as Transport for NSW continued to oversee safety and maintenance.
“Transportation for NSW is still required to meet safety standards set by the national regulator,” she said. “The referenced information documents are seven years old. They have been replaced by the current documents and are no longer relevant.
Ms. Berejiklian’s office referred questions about TAHE to the Minister of Transport.
The latest revelations come as senior New South Wales Treasury, TAHE and state transport agency officials are toasted on Friday during a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial rail company.
The Herald previously revealed that Sydney’s rail network fell into disarray last year due to safety concerns and the fact that TAHE was still not fully operational six years after its launch.
A wealth of sensitive documents tabled in Parliament and others obtained by the Herald show that Ms Berejiklian and Mr Constance were briefed in the months following the development of a conceptual model by the Treasury in April 2014.
The briefings reveal that one of the main reasons for its creation was to strengthen the “short and medium term budget performance of the state” and “to achieve a positive state fiscal position”.
The following year, the creation of a full-fledged for-profit railway company inflated the state budget by nearly $ 2 billion.
A key concern in 2014, and one that remains today, is the level of control the for-profit corporation has over state railways.
A parliamentary hearing was recently informed that former NSW transport chief Rodd Staples raised concerns about TAHE’s impact on rail safety, months before he was dismissed without cause.
Last week, the state’s price regulator also found that TAHE overcharged rail operators for the use of rail lines in the Hunter Valley by $ 3 million over a two-year period, and failed to meet principles of asset valuation.
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