Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: Dave Tease
THE opposition, Greens and some transport advocates have raised concerns about skewed representation on a board set up to advise the state government on transport policy.
The Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, and the Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, last week announced the creation of a Transport Advisory Board. The board will report to ministers and the director-general of transport for NSW, Les Wielinga, also a member of the new group.
The membership of the board, which the ministers promised to establish after last year’s election, is drawn from the private sector.
It will be headed by the former chairman of Leighton Holdings and the Commonwealth Bank Tim Besley, who has strong Liberal Party connections.
It also includes Brendan Lyon, a former Coalition staffer who runs the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia transport lobby; Paul Forward, a former chief executive of the RTA who was sacked over the Cross City Tunnel and who is a principal of Evans and Peck consultancy; and Andrea Staines, a former chief executive of Australian Airlines and a director of QR National and North Queensland Airports.
The Opposition Leader, John Robertson, said the board did not include commuter or motorist representatives.
”Commuters and drivers have every right to be concerned they have been excluded from the O’Farrell government’s advisory committee – we know this government is hell-bent on privatising public transport, introducing tolls on currently untolled roads and increasing fares,” Mr Robertson said.
Greens transport spokeswoman, Cate Faehrmann, said: ”With no independent experts on the board the only advice the Transport Minister will receive is that which serves corporate interests, not the travelling public’s.”
The director of the Council of Social Service of NSW, Alison Peters, praised the government’s willingness to consult on some transport matters, but said it was an oversight not to include people who rely on public transport.
The director of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at Sydney University, David Hensher, noted the absence of academics on the board, and was surprised to see lobbyist Mr Lyon.
”You want to see these committees small – except for Lyon they might bring a good balance,” Professor Hensher said.
Mr Lyon has also been appointed to advisory boards by the federal Labor government.
The convener of advocacy group EcoTransit, Gavin Gatenby, said the appointment of the board appeared to be part of a war within the government over transport.
”Nick Greiner, who heads up the rival Infrastructure NSW, has made little secret of his desire for more urban tollways. It seems Berejiklian and Gay have moved to shore-up their preference for urban rail and rural road projects with a rival board.”
Ms Berejiklian said criticisms were ”completely unjustified”.