The NSW Labor Opposition has called on NSW Transport Minister David Elliott to resign after secret government documents obtained by the Parliament revealed that Minister Elliott and his office were briefed on the shutdown at 10:43PM on Sunday night.
The documents confirmed that Minister Elliott received a briefing from Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary for Greater Sydney, Megan Bourke O’Neill which concluded that rail services “could not be run safely and reliably”, and that “the network could not be operated under these conditions”.
The briefing recommended the shutdown of the entire train network.
Minister Elliott’s office confirmed David Elliott had been “briefed” on Transport for NSW’s recommendation and approved of it, saying he was “comfortable with our position”.
After thousands of passengers were abandoned on train station platforms across NSW, David Elliott claimed that he had nothing to do with the shutdown and that he first heard of it was when he woke up on Monday morning.
In question time in Parliament last week, David Elliott said:
“There is no way in the world I would have been able to find out about the closure before midnight on Sunday night, because a decision had not been made until after midnight on Sunday night.”
Mr Elliott also said:
“At 10.43 Transport for NSW advised my staff that there would be a significant interruption—no mention of cancellation.”
But the secret public service documents revealed by the Parliament reveal that both of these claims made by David Elliott are just not true.
Shadow Minister for Transport Jo Haylen said: “It’s clear that David Elliott misled both the public and the parliament when he claimed that neither he or his office knew that the entire train network would be shut down. He knew it would happen and he signed off on it.
“There is no room for interpretation here. The public service dossier prepared for the Premier is crystal clear. Minister Elliott’s office was briefed on the full shutdown of the train network at 10:43PM on Sunday night. The Minister’s office responded 56 minutes later clearly saying he had been briefed and that he approved of Transport’s decision.
“David Elliott has misled passengers, the public, the Parliament and even his own Government. He is clearly unfit to hold the Transport portfolio and has to go.”