VCAT will today hold a directions hearing into an application for it to review the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority’s (MTIA) decision to not release under Freedom of Information critical documents about options considered for level crossing removals in Werribee and Hoppers Crossing.
Local community action group, the Werribee Infrastructure Network, through the Shadow Minister for Transport Infrastructure, David Davis first applied for the documents on 1 November 2019 and then took the MTIA’s refusal to release critical documents to OVIC then VCAT.
The local community are highly engaged in issues surrounding these level crossing removals in Werribee and Hoppers Crossing. A number of the community, including some with technical, engineering and analytical skills have proposed a series of alternate models. The empirical data and modelling in the Level Crossing Removal Project documents are something they would be able to cogently examine and analyse.
The release of as much technical data and modelling as possible would assist their activities and is consequently in the public interest.
The fact is, not all wisdom resides in government departments or Cabinet.
Many of the MTIA’s claims for refusing to release these documents are absurd, but the claim “the estimates are preliminary and do not necessarily represent eventual costs of the removals and this could cause confusion” takes the cake.
Elsewhere, the Government claims to have completed 34 level crossing removals but refuses to release the final costs of each of these crossing removals, so it seems both the estimates and the final costs could give rise to confusion.
Of course, taxpayers are entitled to see both the estimates and the final costs and many would legitimately seek to calculate the difference to see whether taxpayers’ money is being used effectively.
Comments attributable to the Shadow Minister for Transport Infrastructure, David Davis :
“Daniel Andrews must reveal all of this information to the affected communities; they deserve to know that truth.
“The Andrews Labor Government’s Level Crossing Removal Project is billions over budget, its actual costs desperately kept secret and the most vanilla of details, in this case, about options considered, denied to the affected communities.
“It is to be hoped that VCAT might be able to pry loose some of the detail.”