NSW Transport Minister has not seen key Rosehill Racecourse document, Metro West delivery questioned at budget estimates

The NSW Transport Minister says she has not seen a key document underpinning the NSW government’s $5bn proposal to turn Sydney’s Rosehill Racecourse into a sprawling mini-city.

During Friday’s budget estimates, Jo Haylen said she had not seen the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the state government and the Australian Turf Club (ATC) that’s underpinning the major announcement.

As it stands, the government has committed to a scoping study for an additional Metro West station at Rosehill Racecourse, however Ms Haylen said “that is contingent on the MOU with the ATC progressing that project”.

The admission comes as doubt has been cast over whether the $5bn development will proceed, with the project dependent on approval by Australian Turf Club (ATC) members, and he organisation’s continued negotiations with the NSW government.

The proposal seeks to relocate the major racecourse, with proposed plans to build an additional Metro West station, entertainment precinct and up to 25,000 new homes.

“I was not involved in the processes around the MOU or the unsolicited proposal,” she said.

“The process is being dealt with an arm’s length from the elected representatives, as would be appropriate, as apart of the unsolicited proposals process.”

Opposition transport spokeswoman Natalie Ward questioned why Ms Haylen hadn’t seen the MOU prior to attending the press conference highlighting the announcement in December.

“Just to be clear, you stood at the announcement, at the press conference about the memorandum of understanding, you’re telling us you had not seen the MOU, prior to, or at the time, or since,” she said.

Ms Haylen said she had an “understanding of the importance of the MOU,” and had received briefings on the project. She also said it did not go through the Metro West review, and was signed after review process had concluded.

She said her responsibility at the press conference was about the proposal’s “responsibilities in relation to Metro West, the scope of that project and the potential to deliver a new train station Rosehill Racecourse”.

On Tuesday, NSW Premier Chris Minns appeared to cast doubt over the project after he conceded there were a number of potential hurdles before the project is approved.

Not only will the decision be “decided by members of the ATC,” the final proposal would be dependent on further negotiations between the club and the government.

“There may well be, as part of the negotiations between the ATC and the government, irreconcilable differences particularly in relation to the disposal of property, the size of the rezoning, the density of housing, how much space is available …” he said, listing off several potential hurdles.

“That may be a deal breaker for one or both of those sides but in fairness to the government, we made that clear when the announcement was made.”

Questions over Metro West delivery

The on-time delivery of the $25bn Metro West project by its target 2032 opening date has also been thrown into question.

While hopeful, Sydney Metro boss Peter Regan said it was still too early to offer certainly on the date, with the government still conducting scoping studies into Rosehill Racecourse and an additional station west of Sydney Olympic Park.

“There are of course a lot of issues to work through inserting station into a railway, the planning process, the design process, the procurement … but it is absolutely possible to have that station by 2032 but there is a long way to go down that path,” he said.

Ms Haylen also said it was the government’s “ambition” to open Metro West by 2032.

“That date is informed by the work undertaken so far by the delivery plan delivered Sydney Metro, it’s also informed by the independent review. It is our ambition that the project open by 2032.”

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