Secretive Minister must explain six-month wait to reveal budget blowout

Shadow METRONET Minister, Tjorn Sibma, has criticised the lack of transparency by the Minister for Transport after it was revealed in Budget Estimates Hearings with the Public Transport Authority that the contract for the Radio Systems Replacement Project was awarded in December 2021.

“In December, the Government agreed to a $6.6m termination settlement and signed a new contract worth $327m, yet the Minister waited six months to update Parliament. This is not the gold standard transparency Western Australians were promised,” Mr Sibma said.

“The Minister must explain why she waited six-months to tell the WA Taxpayer the cost of her incompetence.”

In 2018, WA Labor awarded a $206m contract to the Huawei-UGL consortium for the Public Transport Authority Radio Systems Replacement project despite warnings from the Commonwealth Government, industry experts and the opposition.

“Minister Saffioti was warned about the problems the Huawei-UGL consortium would face in delivering the contract – yet she arrogantly proceeded,” said Mr Sibma.

Foreseeable events resulted in the Government terminating the contract with the Huawei-UGL consortium in September 2020 after it could no longer fulfil its contract obligations.

“As a result of her arrogance WA Taxpayers will fork out $6.6million to the Huawei-UGL consortium and pay an extra $120m in cost escalations.”

The failure to disclose the cost-blow-out for nearly six months highlights the importance of the Auditor General’s recommendation for the Government to report to Parliament regularly on the status of major projects.

“The Auditor General has recommended the Government to regularly report directly to Parliament and the public on the cost, time and status of major projects – yet the Government has refused.

“WA Taxpayers deserve to know the status of these projects, particularly METRONET which has already ballooned to $10 billion, and faces delay after delay.

“It’s time for Minister Saffioti to deliver the Gold Standard Transparency we were promised,” said Mr Sibma.