Federal and State Labor are both treating taxpayers with contempt by refusing to release information surrounding decisions to fund the Adelaide Desalination Plant, the Coalition’s Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
It follows this month’s damning report of the Commonwealth Auditor-General* into $328 million in federal funding for the Desal Plant, including the decision to double its size.
The Auditor-General found that proper grants processes were not followed, that the project failed cost-benefit analyses and that even the responsible minister then Water minister Penny Wong was kept in the dark.
“The Gillard and Weatherill Governments are now engaged in an appalling game of buck-passing as they try to avoid any responsibility for failing taxpayers with terrible process,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“At the heart of this is the flat rejection by Infrastructure Australia of funding proposals, yet Labor went ahead with funding despite federal election commitments explicitly requiring Infrastructure Australia approval of such projects.
“We know from the Auditor-General’s report that Infrastructure Australia conducted a cost-benefit analysis which both Governments are now refusing to release.
“Yet both Governments have previously released even Cabinet documents to try to justify their case then it suits them, with the Weatherill Government even having done this over the very same Desal Plant.
“The Auditor-General’s exposure of Labor’s chronic failures in process means it’s more important than ever for proper transparency over Labor’s decisions to fund the Adelaide Desalination Plant.
“Both the Gillard and Weatherill Governments can make a belated start on such transparency by releasing Infrastructure Australia’s cost-benefit analysis and allowing taxpayers to better understand the impact of these public expenditure decisions.”
*The full report and audit summary can both be found online at http://www.anao.gov.au/Publications/Audit-Reports/2012-2013/Grants-for-the-Construction-of-the-Adelaide-Desalination-Plant.