Submission to the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into the operations of existing and proposed toll roads in Australia

by Marion Terrill

Melbourne’s $5.5 billion West Gate Tunnel toll road is too expensive, the risks of a cost blow-out have been understated, and the project has been characterised by undue secrecy. The project could have been financed more cheaply through general government borrowing rather than private finance. The history of major transport projects in Australia suggests the business case for the tunnel substantially understates the risk of a cost over-run. And the secrecy surrounding the deal has been evident from the start: the project resulted from an unsolicited bid from Transurban, the State Government committed to it before Infrastructure Victoria could assess it merits, and the publicly released business case has been heavily redacted.

In this submission to a Senate committee inquiry into toll roads, Grattan Institute’s Transport Program Director Marion Terrill recommends ways to ensure taxpayers get a better bang for their transport project buck.