Ousted NSW Transport secretary concerned about rail safety ahead of corporation starting

By Jackson Graham

Wednesday November 17, 2021

Rodd Staples
Former NSW Transport head Rodd Staples. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

A NSW Transport secretary ousted last year says he had already considered resigning his position after raising safety and financial concerns about a new agency with the NSW government.

Former NSW Transport head Rodd Staples told a NSW parliamentary public accountability committee this week that he was sacked from the role around the time he was in discussions with the NSW Treasury over its Transport Asset Holding Entity.

He did not go into speculation about why he was sacked in November last year, saying it was without cause. 

The state-owned corporation, shortened to TAHE, has been responsible for managing NSW’s rail assets and infrastructure since July 2020 but has come under fire from critics who say it enables the state to lift a budget surplus or minimise a deficit. 

Staples told the hearing that he believed the key driver for the agency was to make sure the government “could present the budget in a fiscally different way”. 

He said he had raised concerns about managing safety given TAHE could change control over the maintenance of trains and other rail assets. 

“If you reflect back on some of the issues that emerged through [rail accidents] Glenbrook and Waterfall, it wasn’t the initial governance necessarily, it was the passage of time, new people come in, the understanding of what the intent was shifts,” Staples said. 

It follows former KPMG partner Brendan Lyon telling the committee last week that he was pressured by the NSW Treasury to change his advice to Transport NSW that TAHE could cause a $10 billion budget misrepresentation. 

KPMG claimed in a submission to the committee on Monday that Lydon’s evidence “was misleading, either by omission or design as part of a campaign of misinformation”. 

“KPMG has made it clear it supports its people and firmly stands by the independent advice provided to the NSW Government on matters related to TAHE,” the submission said.


READ MORE:

The payoff: how KPMG scored big from NSW Treasury after dumping Brendan Lyon

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