At the start of the week we had the
unedifying spectacle of an arrogant former premier, Bob Carr, and his
former Treasurer, Michael Egan, defending their handling of the Cross
City Tunnel contract when in power.

They were contemptuous of
the inquiry, and on Tuesday there was more of the same. The head of the
Cross City Tunnel operating company Paul Sansom claimed that there were
a number of roads that could be re-opened without any penalty being
incurred by the government, but he then back-flipped later in the day
and suggested the company could sue if there was an attempt to re-open
roads. Then, yesterday, he said he had made a mistake. Here’s a good
report in the Sydney Daily Tele.

But
the part of the hearing yesterday that caught the eye was the arrogant
effort by former Premier Nick Greiner, chairman of the tunnel’s
builder, Baulderstone Hornibrook. This is what the Tele reported:

And it got worse for the government later when former
Liberal premier Nick Greiner livened up the inquiry with a savaging of
Premier Morris Iemma’s handling of the public outcry.

Mr
Greiner, chairman of Baulderstone Hornibrook – which built the $680
million tunnel – said Mr Iemma and his Roads Minister Joe Tripodi had
been the weakest link in the whole tunnel debate.

But the Tele also
had a most fascinating snippet which underlined the arrogance of
Greiner, Carr and Egan, reporting that Michael Egan had waived a $2.5
million in stamp duty that was owed by the Cross City Motorway
Consortium, an undisclosed subsidy to the company which Nick Greiner
chaired, and its partners in the tunnel.

A similar arrangement,
for an undisclosed amount, is in place with the about to open M7
Westlink built by Leighton Holdings, Macquarie Bank and Transurban,
which now also owns the M2 Motorway in Sydney. The paper said the deals
were mentioned in emails between lawyers for the RTA (Roads
and Traffic Authority) and an RTA director.

Egan wanted the money paid to
the office of State Revenue, but it would then be returned to the Cross
City MotorWay and Westlink via a refund from the RTA, thus hiding the
end result of the transaction from public scrutiny. The government
could claim the stamp duty money had been paid, which
it had, without having to mention the refund from the RTA.

No wonder Nick Greiner appeared yesterday to attack the present NSW Government and support Carr and Egan.

Peter Fray

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