Reveal all the details of the Metro tunnel scandal

21 February, 2024

The cancellation of the Commonwealth Games and the revised budgets of most of Victoria’s major projects, with sums skyrocketing, are of particular concern to citizens who are facing serious financial problems due to the cost-of-living crisis and the repeated hikes in interest rates which has led to desperation for thousands of households.

Suddenly a new scandal has come to light involving workers in the giant $14 billion Metro tunnel project. According to an investigation by the National Safety Regulator, workers in question were manipulating their work schedules to increase their pay.

Evidence of the fraud was uncovered during an investigation into “ghost shifts” and other alleged multi-million dollar frauds at Victorian construction sites uncovered last year.

The reputation of the well-known “Big Build” construction project has been rocked by allegations, detailed by whistleblowers, that construction companies have billed for shifts that workers never actually filled or completed. Railroad safety workers provided by labor hire company Morson International also allegedly acted in roles for which they were not qualified to fill, sparking fears that the fraud could be fatal.

The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), the train operator Metro and the metro tunnel builder John Holland were quick to announce investigations as soon as these revelations were published.

The ONRSR investigation, which looked into specific complaints about workers provided by Morson International and “potentially unsafe working practices”, has now been finalised.

It found that, in addition to falsifying work schedules for financial gain, they also identified “instances of rail safety workers acting without the necessary qualifications between 31 January and 2 March 2023”. 

ONRSR said that since the investigation was launched, access for workers in the rail industry had been blocked “for a significant number of staff”.

On Monday, Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas called the falsified schedules “totally unacceptable”, but could not specify the exact amount of money that was siphoned from taxpayers’ pockets.

Victorians have every right to know exactly what is being done with their money and to demand “sound fiscal management” from the authorities. The exact amount of the fraud and the names of all those involved must be made public.

We therefore look forward to the publication of the findings of the Metro Trains and John Holland investigations, which could lead to legal action against companies or individuals who orchestrated these apparent frauds.

Administrators of taxpayers’ money must always act prudently and with a view to ensure fiscal sustainability.

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