In March 1986 the Premier of New South
Wales, Neville Wran, announced that a Tunnel would be built across the
Harbour by a private consortium of Transfield and Kumagai-Gumi, provided
a feasibility study was favourable.
At the beginning of June 1986 the Transfield-Kumagai
Joint Venture wrote to the Director of the Department of Environment
and Planning (DEP) seeking his requirements for an Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS). He replied a few weeks later and the firm Cameron McNamara,
acting as consultants employed by the Joint Venture, prepared the EIS
which went on public display from December 1986 to February 1987.
There were 463 submissions made in response
to the EIS. Thirty four of these were from Government Departments and
local councils. Additionally there were four petitions with a total
of 250 signatures on them. By far the majority of submissions and the
petitions opposed the Harbour Tunnel proposal.
The Department of Main Roads (DMR) forwarded
the submissions to the Director of the DEP who informed them in March
1987 that he would be carrying out a Director's examination of the proposal.
His report was covered by the media at the end of that month. It was
critical of the EIS saying that it was "in reality a 'sales' document
which fails to provide justification for the construction of the Tunnel".
It recommended that the Tunnel not proceed and that viable alternatives
The Minister for Roads, Laurie Brereton
criticised the DEP report and he was supported by the then Premier,
Barry Unsworth. In April 1987 the Unsworth Government announced that
it had given approval for the Tunnel. At the end of May 1987 the DMR
publicly released its own assessment report which supported the Transfield-Kumagai
Tunnel proposal. The Harbour Tunnel Act 1987 was passed later that year.
The Opposition Liberal Party, led by
Nick Greiner, campained against the Tunnel for the 1988 elections. It
promised voters that it would hold a public inquiry into the Tunnel
if it was elected. In April 1988 the Greiner Government was elected
and in May 1988 they decided to go ahead with the Tunnel saying they
could not get out of the contract which the previous government had
made with Transfield-Kumagai.
The Harbour Tunnel was completed in