In our opinion the Government’s ‘no net cost to government’ requirement was a legitimate (but not the only possible) basis for the tunnel bid process. The Government was entitled to decide that tunnel users meet the tunnel costs. Structuring the bid process on the basis of an upfront reimbursement of costs incurred (or to be incurred) by the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) was therefore appropriate.
In our opinion, however, the Government, Treasury and the RTA did not sufficiently consider the implications of an upfront payment involving more than simple project cost reimbursement (i.e. the ‘Business Consideration Fee’ component). In addition, the RTA was wrong to change the toll escalation factor late in 2002 to compensate the tunnel operator, Cross City Motorway Pty Ltd, for additional costs.