Submission to the Inquiry into the planning, construction and management of the Western Sydney Airport project Limited
Australians have a significant interest in their government ensuring value for money in the procurement of services and goods – indeed, as the Foreword to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules acknowledges, “Achieving value for money […] is critical to ensuring that public resources are used in the most efficient, effective, ethical and economic manner”.
The Australian National Audit Office’s Purchase of the ‘Leppington Triangle’ Land for the Future Development of Western Sydney Airport Report establishes that the acquisition of the Leppington Triangle failed to use public resources in such a manner, insofar as it saw the Commonwealth pay $29.8 million for a parcel of land valued a year later at $3 million.
The Leppington Triangle acquisition is a case study in the weakness of existing accountability mechanisms in respect of Commonwealth procurement – and land procurement, in particular – and this Inquiry provides a valuable opportunity to consider how these mechanisms can be bolstered so that they may be fit for purpose.
The Centre for Public Integrity considers that these mechanisms could be strengthened by:
- addressing the weaknesses identified throughout this submission in respect of the enforcement of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules;
- expanding the powers and resources of the Auditor-General and ANAO to enable them to have a greater role in ongoing monitoring of procurement processes; and
- establishing a fit-for-purpose National Integrity Commission, which would be best-placed to tackle substantial and/or systemic breaches of procurement processes.
 Foreword to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules 20 April 2019 <https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L00536/Html/Text> accessed 24 September 2020.
 Australian National Audit Office, “Purchase of the ‘Leppington Triangle’ Land for the Future Development of Western Sydney Airport” 21 September 2020 < https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/purchase-the-leppington-triangle-land-the-future-development-western-sydney-airport> accessed 28 September 2020, at 1-2.