Judith Sloan makes many valid points in her article ‘Infrastructure a big problem …’ (Commentary, 19Jan22). in particular, she makes the point of how ‘politics tends to prevail over independent assessment’. This is unfortunately too true but there are several reasons why big projects (not just infrastructure) go bad. It starts with the lack of a valid business case (if indeed there is one), followed by inappropriate and incomplete specification of requirements, a poor tendering and evaluation process, improper selection of contractor/s and then the inability of government buyers to control execution of the project which, by then is firmly in the control of the contractors in cahoots with their unionised workforce. Governments have not been smart buyers for many decades – clerks and lawyers cannot control project execution – it needs technical expertise. That said, political ideology is the biggest problem. Ideology entrenched in power is a terrible thing and has no respect for taxpayer’s money, with cost-effectiveness simply ignored.
A major, ideological project that has been documented in detail from the outset is the black hole that is light rail in Canberra. This detailed case study of how taxpayers get rolled by ideology can be read on www.alogstudycentre.com.au
Coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport, Canberra
Letter to the Edtior: TheAustralian