NSW bus contract controversy

New South Wales Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian states goverment contracts were awarded on merit

NSW bus contract controversy
NSW Bus contract controversy

September 3, 2013

New South Wales Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian has defended claims the government was lobbied leading up to the awarding of major bus contracts last week.

It has been revealed two clients of consultancy PremierState – co-founded by former NSW Cabinet Minister Michael Photios – won two of the contracts, as reported by news.com.au.

These were Punchbowl Bus Services and Neville Bus Services.

Premierstate regularly invites the minister to social events, according to documents obtained through freedom of information, although the minister rejects many invitations.

Other companies also had meetings set up with the office through the consultancy, although some did not win any contracts.

Berejiklian says all decisions made by the government were made on merit.

"There were strict probity conditions surrounding the bus contract tender process, which was carried out independently by Transport for NSW and overseen by probity advisors and three governance committees, and I am proud that this Government has been able to deliver better services for customers in eight regions while saving taxpayers $350 million over eight years."

She says one company was also unsuccessful in retaining a bus contract it had previously held as part of consortium, and another was the incumbent.

BusNSW Executive Director Darryl Mellish previously told ABC he was critical of the way the Transport Ministry went about the process of selecting operators to run Sydney’s public bus services.

"The industry continues to grapple with the incumbents not first being given a chance to negotiate new contracts with tender as the fall back option," Mellish says.

"With years of operator Investment not funded by the NSW government, the transition to market testing arguably should have had a negotiation test first.

"In other jurisdictions programmed service improvements and additional buses have been introduced via partnership between government and existing private operators."

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