A Letter to the Herald That Didn’t Get Run
Kim Sanders ( Letters, June 8 ) is precisely wrong to say that in public private partnerships the state Labor government made the taxpayer bear loses and the private sector pick up profits.
Indeed the criticism of the Cross City Tunnel and the Lane Cove Tunnel were precisely the opposite. Parts of the media condemned the deals for being too ruthless with the private sector. With the Cross City Tunnel the state got a superb piece of infrastructure without investing a dollar. When original take-up was disappointing every cent of the losses was shouldered by the private sector consortium because the deal was so tight. The taxpayer was not required to put in a cent. The risk was entirely borne by the private sector (the project has now become profitable for its new owners).
I’m happy to bear the criticism that we were too diligent in protecting the taxpayer interest.
The criticism, however, is valid for the city to airport rail link, rushed into by Transport Minister Bruce Baird on the eve of the Fahey government’s defeat in 1995. Baird told parliament there’d not be a cent from the public sector. Because the contract was so shockingly bad my government was forced to pour $700 million into what should have been a purely private undertaking.
We learnt from that.