Brisbane's Airport Link $3 billion debt 'a fiasco'

The Australian Shareholders Association (ASA) says Brisbane's Airport Link is the "biggest construction project disaster" in recent history.

Toll road operator BrisConnections went into receivership yesterday with debts totalling more than $3 billion.

Less than half of the forecast 130,000 vehicles a day have been using the tunnel and patronage has been falling.

McGrathNicol will manage the listed company and its trusts and PPB Advisory will operate the tunnel.

ASA spokesman Stephen Mayne says the BrisConnections failure is more significant than others.

"Clem7, and Lane Cove and cross-city in Sydney - but for the builder to lose a billion, for the investors to lose $1.2 billion, and the bankers to lose between $1 billion and $2 billion - that's just a fiasco," he said.

"Clearly Macquarie Bank and Deutsche Bank which put it together initially were far too optimistic and were driven by a pre-GFC mentality." BrisConnections's latest annual report show it gave chief executive officer Raymond Wilson a salary package of more than $1 million last financial year.

Mr Wilson was CEO of the company for four years and the report shows he earned more than $1 million including superannuation, last financial year.

Mr Mayne says it is not a good look.

"When $3 billion has been lost by everyone else who've contributed to the project," he said.

The report says Mr Wilson had about 15,000 BrisConnections shares.

Mr Mayne says Mr Wilson should have had "more skin in the game".

"It's not much when you've been paid more than $1 million a year for a couple of years to run the project," he said.

BrisConnections yesterday declined to comment.

Yesterday Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says taxpayers won't foot the bill for Brisbane's Airport Link tunnel.

When it opened, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney praised the tunnel as a vital piece of then-Brisbane mayor Campbell Newman's plan to reduce traffic congestion.

Yesterday as Queensland Premier, Mr Newman insisted there would be no bail out of Brisconnections.

"One thing I'll say about Airport Link is this is one decision, unlike all the other dud decisions of [former premier] Anna Bligh and [former treasurer] Andrew Fraser that the taxpayers won't end up paying for, thankfully," he said.

Meanwhile, administrators said yesterday it was business as usual for the the Airport Link tunnel.

PPB says customers will not notice a difference in the tunnel's operation.

University of Sydney transport expert John Rose says residents are disappointed with the toll road.

"I don't think the time savings were as large as what was expected," he said.

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