Lawyers acting for ERG Group yesterday argued that RailCorp did not provide reliable Tcard system testing information back to the company throughout the course of the card's development, which ultimately led to the NSW Government cancelling the contract in 2008.
ERG barrister Wayne Muddle argued in a Supreme Court directions hearing yesterday that part of the Tcard's failure was that it didn't get sufficient cooperation from operators such as RailCorp to bring in the system.
Following on comments made in this vein at the last directions hearing, Muddle alleged that RailCorp had failed to advise ERG when it upgraded its software and he said that the rail organisation had been unclear when providing descriptions of its legacy systems. He also alleged that ERG were kept in the dark on the results of tests of the Tcard system, with RailCorp failing to notify the company of any errors found in testing.
The lawyers were speaking at a Supreme Court directions hearing yesterday to determine whether lobbyist Hawker Britton, whose job it had been to liaise with the NSW Government on the Tcard issue, could be brought back into the case as part of a counter-claim ERG had launched.
Muddle alleged that Hawker Britton had informed ERG that a "mea culpa" letter written by its chairman acknowledging that the company had failed to deliver on the contract would prevent it from being cancelled. Muddle said the letter was ultimately part of the basis for the Public Transport Ticketing Corporation's (PTTC) decision to cancel the contract. ERG was seeking to determine whether the NSW Government had misled Hawker Britton or whether Hawker Britton had provided incorrect information to ERG.
The decision on whether Hawker Britton and the NSW Government will be brought into the case will rely on whether statements from four NSW government employees, who had provided advice on the Tcard contract to Hawker Britton, match those provided by Hawker Britton. The four employees named were former Deputy Direct-General for the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Elizabeth McNamara, Public Transport Ticketing Corporation (PTTC) chief executive officer Elizabeth Zealand, chief of staff for the former Transport Minister John Watkins, Emma Murphy, and chief of staff for former NSW Premier Morris Iemma, Josh Murray.
Justice Hammerschlag deferred a decision on the matter until 23 July. He advised Muddle to consider whether to drop the counter-claim against Hawker Britton if the testimony of the four contacts is not fruitful.
"It's not going to run until 2025," he said. "You've had three goes with this pleading; that should be telling you something."
Justice Hammerschlag indicated that he will also set a trial date for the case on 23 July. Lawyers acting on behalf of the PTTC indicated September 2011 would be an ideal date, with the trial expected to run a minimum of three months. This would put the resolution of the trial almost four years after the original cancellation of the Tcard system, and well after the next state election.