Vic govt to be probed over sky rail

The state opposition wants Victoria’s government watchdog to investigate whether multi-million dollar contracts linked to the contentious sky rail project have been awarded without going to tender.

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Melbourne’s rail operator Metro could reap millions in profit after it was secretly put in charge of almost $500 million worth of work on the sky rail project, The Age reports.

The Victorian government has awarded Metro almost a third of the cost of the $1.6 billion project to remove nine level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong, according to confidential documents leaked to the newspaper.

The coalition has accused Premier Daniel Andrews of being deceitful and making back-room deals that circumvent the proper tender process.

“It’s a secret deal, done behind closed doors, and hidden from Victorians,” opposition transport spokesman David Hodgett told reporters on Saturday.

“We’ll be asking the auditor-general to have a look at this secret deal and expose it so that in future the proper tender practices are followed.”

Mr Hodgett says taxpayers need to be confident they are getting value for money, which secret deals do not provide because of their lack of transparency and opportunity for scrutiny.

“The premier shouldn’t be denying other companies with an opportunity to bid on these works,” he said.

“Daniel Andrews has engaged in deceit and secrecy with sky rail, awarding contracts without going to a proper, open, fair tender process.”

The government is also set to award the sky rail contract next week, Fairfax reports.

Since plans to elevate nine kilometres of the Caulfield-Dandenong line were unveiled in January, residents have complained about lack of consultation.

In March a report by university transport experts backed the government’s elevated rail plan, saying it would free up valuable land along Melbourne’s busiest train line.

A government-commissioned poll suggests the sky rail plan has the support of 82 per cent of residents.