Financial Services Council - wrong

FSC commissioned EY in 2011 and 2014 to scan and critique port and logistics plans, as the backbones of much infrastructure thinking.

Deloittes, EY, KPMG, Boston and others are happy to deliver dross so long as Madame is happy, take the gold coins and line up for more. This is of no benefit to communities, good governance or government/industry success. 

The following passages are drawn from the FCS 2014 Report (which did not mention any port and logistics boards' reports), with comments in block italics:

Our 2011 report highlighted the following as the key barriers to further superannuation investment in infrastructure:

  • A lack of a clear pipeline and government commitment*
  • A lack of suitably structured projects*
  • Greenfield project risks*
  • Lack of specialist expertise readily available to superannuation funds*
  • Inconsistent, complex and expensive bidding processes
  • Regulatory and industry pressures
  • Sovereign and political risk
  • Unfavourable Australian banking terms

      * said to have improved since 2011

There was a clear distinction between those areas where substantial improvements had been made and those where little progress was noted - but an overriding message was that all the barriers identified were still operative and impacting the willingness of the superannuation market to consider further infrastructure investment.

Defects in EY – no critique and indeed praise for Berejiklian: the main negative factors in that interval were the desecration of iNSW by Berejiklian in 2012 and ineffective and incomplete freight and port plans from iA, iNSW and Berejiklian in 2012-3. These led to an attack in the Daily Telegraph (including Clennell’s famous “Liberal Bromance” article), and the initiation of RG’s Eastern Seabord Rail Freight Strategic Plan, which had distinctive features. It was shared with NTC, ALC, SAL and Syd Uni but while all agreed and had no changes, none were prepared to pay – so it wasn’t published. (Large parts were in a submission to TfNSW which was the subject of Clennell’s article.) Eastern Creek IMT was pinched from RG’s work in the following period, while Berejiklian stole other ideas which are described in a different document.

Barriers where minimal progress has been made:

  • Inconsistent, complex and expensive bidding processes
  • Regulatory and industry pressures
  • Sovereign and political risk
  • Unfavourable Australian banking terms

Participants confirmed that there is continuing confusion both in the media and in communication with government agencies over the difference between funding and financing and that this adds to the complexity in discussing the roles that superannuation funds play in the delivery of infrastructure. 

EY defects: Indeed, it is worse than pretended:  the lack of business plans under Berejiklian;  the lousy pre-planning of the trams, NW, Bankstown Line and WestConnex causing community uproar, unstable politics and heavy cost over-runs;  and the stacking of all guard posts by loyal and mute cadres, mean that Labor’s record of failed PPPs now looms large in Sydney. There has been not one known proper risk analysis. The fact is, not one of Berejiklian’s projects has a positive benefit/cost ratio despite her lies to the contrary.

Superannuation funds finance infrastructure they do not fund it…. The consensus of the participants was that overall a lack of finance was not a strong barrier to further investment. 

As efficient potential long term owners of infrastructure, the superannuation industry believes that significant efficiency could be generated from earlier consultation with key state representatives. This process should be formalised as part of the procurement business case requirements whenever private finance options are to be considered.

EY defects: This is fanciful as the “chain” has been destroyed and now comprises invisible criteria drawn from Chinese passenger corporates. The Chinese investment in the Port of Newcastle was poorly cast as that Port lacks logic unless it adopts my approach which the Chairman and CEO are resisting. There are IP issues which will impact on the Port and ARTC. There needs to be a cleanout.

Increasing focus over the available funding for the mooted project pipelines and continued progress in line with announced timetables for major projects such as the North West Rail link and the East West Link road project has increased institutional investor confidence and encouraged investors to devote the extensive time required to appropriately assess infrastructure projects. However participants still noted that the most significant barrier for further investment was a lack of suitable projects in the market.

EY defects: Very poor understanding. Greiner attacked the NW, rightly, and it is a dud – Berejiklian is desperately trying to bolster its economic base and is thereby further damaging Sydney. Her knowledge of economics is about equal to Rasputin’s. Investor confidence has dropped, with the economic disgraces of poor pre-planning erupting in the Newcastle, ES, CBD and Parra trams, Metros, WestConnex and Beaches Link. There are plenty of projects but they are excluded by the Malenomic “30 Minute Club” as acknowledged by Lucy Turnbull in correspondence with me.

Additionally, the recent early introduction of Federal legislation to fundamentally reform and upskill Infrastructure Australia was viewed as a positive step change to addressing the issue of national project pipeline uncertainty. This reform is expected to provide a clearer structure and will place greater focus on advancing projects and reforms in partnership with the State governments.

EY defects: Again, a very poor understanding. In fact Eddington left in that year and was replaced with an IPA insider who reversed the professionalism. The Priority List was manipulated as a revolving door, for example West Metro came in high and was demoted when I slammed iA. It was no coincidence that Birrell was forced out but the new board is as sad a judge;  a code on interactions imposed between lobbies, consultants and officials/politicians;   and all conflicted industry insiders expelled from all advisory, planning and auditing boards.