The Inland Rail programme is to construct an inland rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane, covering a total distance of approximately 1700 kilometres. In 2014, the Australian Government provided $300 million for pre-construction work on the proposed rail line, and in 2017 committed $8.4 billion to build it. The Australian Rail Track Corporation (a wholly government owned business enterprise) is undertaking the pre-construction work, and has been selected by government to deliver the full programme of works over the next seven years, 2017–18 to 2024–25.
The Australian Government’s commitment to build the Inland Rail in its entirety, and confirmation that the Australian Rail Track Corporation was best placed to deliver it, were announced during the course of the pre-construction activities. The timing of these decisions created challenges for the Australian Rail Track Corporation in managing the pre-construction programme.
The audit objective was to assess whether value for money was being delivered by the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s management of the pre-construction phase of the Inland Rail programme. To form a conclusion against the audit objective the Australian National Audit Office examined whether:
- governance arrangements were appropriate, and administration of grant funding was effective; and
- the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s procurement activities provided value for money and were supported by Information and Communications Technology systems and appropriate policies and procedures.