The Rann Government had not spent at least $100 million of its 2007-08 Transport budget and was also likely to underspend significantly its 2008-09 capital works budget.
Evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee from Jim Hallion, CEO Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (DTEI), confirmed that in 2007-08 actual capital works spending was $332 million, whereas the budget was actually $472 million.
“Whilst this underspend is actually $140 million, Mr Hallion claimed that $38 million was explained by an accounting transfer from capital works to operating expenditure,” Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“Mr Hallion also told the Committee that with just two months left of the 2008-09 financial year, there was still about $200 million unspent out of the $676 million budget.
“It is clear there will be another massive underspend of the Transport capital works budget.
“So whilst Mr Rann and Mr Foley love to trumpet what they claim as massive expenditure on Transport, what they don’t highlight is their inability to spend the money that has been allocated.”
Mr Hallion’s evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee also included:
• Staff cuts in DTEI will be 214 as part of the Mid-Year Budget Review announced cut of 1600 full-time equivalent public servants;
• Budget cuts totalling more than $160 million over the four years 2009-10 to 2012-13 with annual savings of $59 million per annum having to be achieved by 2012-13 – decisions on how to achieve most of these cuts had not yet been taken and would most likely be taken on a year to year basis;
• He would need to take on notice a series of questions about probity concerns raised by Crown Solicitor Simon Stretton about the Rann Government’s handling of the State Aquatic Centre bidding process;
• Contrary to claims by Mr Rann, all six of the state’s requests for priority project funding were not approved as the Torrens and Goodwood junction projects were not approved.
“Mr Hallion also publicly distanced himself from suggestions by Mr Foley and Mr Conlon in radio interviews that the extension of the O-Bahn could involve a new route through the parklands.
Hon R Lucas: “So, if it goes through the Parklands it may well be an additional cost?
Mr J Hallion: “I don't expect it to go through the Parklands.”
“Mr Hallion also confirmed that their first submission on the O-Bahn project would have been “relatively late in the process” and that any additional cost over the $61 million estimate would have to be funded by the State Government.”