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The former head of Infrastructure Australia says he regrets not standing up to state governments that pressured his agency to keep the business cases of multibillion-dollar transport projects secret.
The warning comes as an Age investigation into Victoria’s infrastructure boom shows that three big building firms have earned $10.5 billion between them since Premier Daniel Andrews came to office four years ago.
Michael Deegan led Infrastructure Australia from 2008 to 2014 and said he was under “constant” pressure from state governments to keep key transport documents secret.
Former head of Infrastructure Australia, Michael DeeganCREDITHOTO: DAVID TEASE
Mr Deegan said if he had his time again, he would release secret financial documents behind transport mega-projects (those costing more than $1 billion) that state governments submitted to the federal agency.
“In retrospect we should have pushed harder,” he said.
Infrastructure Australia examines the businesses cases of major transport projects across the nation and advises the federal government on how to invest public money.
“All of those papers should have been published – the submissions and analysis, business case, assessments,” said Mr Deegan, who was appointed by Kevin Rudd and later removed by Tony Abbott.
The three biggest earners from the Andrews government's unprecedented transport construction boom are building firms John Holland, CPB Contractors and Lendlease.
Contracts posted on the state government's tenders website and in VicRoads' annual statement of consultancies show that CPB signed contracts worth $4.6 billion since December 2014 to deliver big road and rail projects.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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