Queensland government to ‘beef up compliance’ for its largest infrastructure project

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday February 27, 2020

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The Queensland government has sacked some of the board members overseeing its largest ­infrastructure project and has appointed a compliance unit in an attempt to avoid following in the footsteps of Victoria’s West Gate Tunnel debacle.

Cross River Rail is expected to cost $5.4 billion, with a completion date of 2024. The underground railway project is currently on track and on budget, according to the Minister for Cross River Rail Kate Jones.

Jones said she planned to hold head contractor CPB Group and the Pulse consortium to account, and would “beef up compliance” as the procurement phase of the project moved to the construction phase.

“I want to ensure I have the right people with the right skills to deliver this project and hold CPB and Pulse Consortium to account,” she said in a statement.

Under new reforms announced on Wednesday, the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority would report directly to Jones, and a compliance unit would be established immediately.

Some members of the current board — chaired by former deputy premier Paul Lucas — would not be returning to their roles once their contracts expire in April.

Members include former New South Wales chief scientist & engineer Mary O’Kane, and the former director-general of the NSW Department of Commerce and Transport for NSW John Lee.

Director-general of the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet Dave Stewart will remain on the board, along with Damien Walker, Neil Scales, and Frankie Carroll.

Jones said Queensland was acting in response to contractual disputes that have been delaying vital infrastructure projects in other states.

“Right now, CPB is trying to weasel its way out of its contract with the Victorian Government on the multi-billion-dollar West Gate Tunnel,” she said.

“We’ve seen delays on the Victorian Government’s Melbourne Metro Tunnel project due to on-going disputes with the builder.

“And we have all suffered with the NSW stadiums deal debacle that has seen timelines pushed out and the Grand Final being played at a cricket ground for up to three years.

“I’m not going to let CPB run roughshod over Queenslanders or the workers on this job.”

The company has at least $18b in contracts with governments across Australia, including $8.1b in NSW, more than $6b in Queensland, and $3.97b in Victoria.

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