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WA projects face delays, cost blowouts

Western Australia’s government has been accused of lacking transparency after an audit found cost blowouts and delays to state infrastructure projects.

The combined budget for 17 major projects has grown by more than half a billion dollars to $5.67 billion, Auditor-General Caroline Spencer says.

Her office found 12 of the 14 active projects have had cost blowouts, delays or both, with seven pushed back by at least a year.

The McGowan government announced last year it would delay the commencement of some works to avoid contributing further to an already-overheated construction market.

Ms Spencer on Friday acknowledged the government had also grappled with labour shortages and global supply chain disruptions.

“However, parliament and the public cannot easily access detailed or consolidated information on the cost and time progress of these projects,” she said.

“It is my intention to continue to periodically report and track a selection of major projects until government fills the gap.”

Ms Spencer called on the government to regularly disclose the status of projects given the size of the spend, saying it would build community trust and confidence.

In responses published in Ms Spencer’s report, the state departments of finance and treasury said there were already sufficient transparency mechanisms including annual budget papers and scrutiny from parliamentary committees.

Further major project reporting was likely to result in unnecessary duplication, they said.

Among the projects facing delays were the $1.9 billion Forrestfield-Airport rail link and Geraldton Health Campus redevelopment.

The rail link is set to open at least two years late, with the McGowan government yet to confirm a revised completion date.

The budget for the Tonkin Highway works has blown out by more than $138 million after the project was revised to allow for rail enabling works.

“It is important the state government considers predictable events, such as stimulus measures and the impact of closed borders on labour supply, when planning the delivery of its major projects to avoid overstimulating industry,” Ms Spencer said.

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