The Spit Tunnel Proposal
Mr STEWART: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads. What is the Minister's response to community concerns about a Coalition proposal to construct a tunnel under the Spit?
Mr SCULLY: As we all know, the Coalition had made a commitment to construct a large tunnel underneath the Spit, basically to connect from the Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation to the Warringah Freeway. When the Government costed that desktop analysis at around $1.5 billion, the Leader of the Opposition was shocked. He was a bit worried that the mercury would blow through the thermometer, so he stepped away and announced that there would not be a tunnel but that there would be a $1 million feasibility study. The Manly Daily got stuck into the Opposition for saying that it would not be committed to the building of a tunnel but would be committed to doing the feasibility study.
I do not know who might be doing that feasibility study, maybe PricewaterhouseCoopers, but the Opposition promised $1 million for it. However, I inform the House that a feasibility study has been completed, so the Opposition can save its money. The study was done by the respected consultancy, Maunsell, which carried out an independent feasibility study into the Opposition's proposals. What will the tunnel cost?
Mr Souris: Table it.
Mr SCULLY: Yes, I will. There are three separate options, ranging between $1.14 billion, $1.27 billion and $1.37 billion, but that does not include filtration. The Opposition said that it wants to put filters everywhere—it will spend public money with gay abandon—and that brings the total to between $1.215 billion and $1.495 billion. Basically the feasibility study has shown that the cost of building the tunnel under the Spit Bridge, as proposed by the Opposition, is between $1.2 and $1.5 billion. Earlier this year in an interview the Leader of the Opposition said, "We could build a six- or seven-kilometre tunnel almost entirely privately financed", with perhaps a mere morsel of funds from the State, a mere trifle. Maunsells did the independent assessment of what a $3 toll each way would finance and found that that would finance between $300 million and $500 million.
Depending on which option the Opposition pursues, potentially there will be a $1 billion shortfall. Yes, I have to report that the tunnel can be built; there is no engineering reason why that project cannot go ahead. Yes, it could be partly privately financed, from a $3 toll each away. However, the shortfall is $1 billion. I want to know what the Opposition will to about that. The Opposition promised $1 million for a study; does it want to know what the study cost?
Do honourable members remember the Victorian shadow Treasurer who did not know where he lived and forgot to nominate for an election? The New South Wales Opposition promised $1 million for a feasibility study, which cost the Government $56,000. I will report to the Treasurer and will tell him that he should take off the $5.3 billion, and give the Opposition back that $944,000 to play with. Now that we know that there is a $1 billion shortfall, after the $3 toll each way, is the Opposition going to commit to spending $1 billion? Will the Opposition commit $1 billion to building the Spit tunnel or not? The other question we want answered is: What did the Leader of the Opposition do for $110,000?
I seek leave to table the feasibility study by Maunsell Australia Pty Ltd for the Roads and Traffic Authority on the tunnel from Warringah Freeway to the Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation dated November 2002.