Leaked Cabinet document shows Newcastle light rail 'cost blowout': Luke Foley

COST CLAIMS: Labor says this leaked document shows a blowout in the cost of the Newcastle light rail project.

COST CLAIMS: Labor says this leaked document shows a blowout in the cost of the Newcastle light rail project.

LABOR has seized on a leaked cabinet document claiming it shows the Newcastle Light Rail project is $35 million over budget.

The revelation comes just days after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited Newcastle saying the project would be delivered within budget.

According to the Cabinet in Confidence document dated March this year, expenditure on the Newcastle Light Rail was listed as $290.2 million, plus $35 million.

Labor intensified its attack on the government this week over the controversial project claiming the plus $35 million was a “cost blow out”.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said it was time for the Berejiklian Government "to come clean about the cost of the project".

“I’m releasing the costing that they’ve kept hidden,” Mr Foley said.

“The Premier misled people this week in Newcastle. This document reveals a $35 million cost blow out to date.

“This is $290 million dollars and rising for 2.7 kilometres of light rail.”

Ms Berejiklian responded to the claims reaffirming her position that the project was “on time and on budget”.

NSW Transport refused to answer a series of questions about what the “plus $35 million” meant or what the money had been spent on. 

“Because Newcastle light rail is being delivered by a private sector managing contractor, who will subcontract the majority of the work, detailed cost breakdowns are not being disclosed,” a spokesman said.

“This will ensure value for money and that Novocastrians get the best bang for their buck, as well as opportunities for local jobs on the project.”

The Newcastle light rail project had an original construction budget of $460 million, which went to $510 million when the Shooters and Fishers extracted another $50 million from the Coalition government to support the rail truncation bill.

Opposition transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay questioned why the government was keeping the expenditure “under wraps”.

“Now we can not only see the true cost of this project, but we can also see that it has increased,” Ms McKay said. 

“The question remains: is this $35 million increase due to more project mismanagement?”

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Andrew Constance did not explain the $35 million figure and would only say the project was “on time and on budget”.

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