Supreme Court to decide on East West Link business case

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The Age: Supreme Court to decide on East West Link business case. Jane Lee. August 8, 2014

A court will decide whether to prevent the East West Link going ahead without the Napthine government having to reveal its business case for the $6 billion to $8 billion road.

Brunswick resident Anthony Murphy is challenging the state and its Linking Melbourne Authority over the tollway in the Supreme Court. The parties have repeatedly clashed on the issue of how much information the state must provide on their discussions on the road with tenderers and the Commonwealth government in preliminary court hearings.

The state has relied on “public interest immunity” to avoid releasing a number of the documents Mr Murphy has sought, including its business case for the road.

Supreme Court Justice Clyde Croft ruled on Friday that he would decide whether to grant an injunction preventing the state from entering contracts with third parties and carrying out the project without it.

This will be based on the legal questions of whether the state had, in its discussions on the road, carried on a business that meant it was subject to Australian consumer law.
Justice Croft said the state was entitled to preserve its claim to public interest immunity at this stage.

One of Mr Murphy’s key arguments is that the project has been based on “misleading representations” about its benefits that breach consumer protection laws. But the government has so far only publicly released a brochure saying the road will generate $1.40 for every $1 invested.

It comes on the last day for tenderers to lodge their bids for the East West Link.

Solicitor-General Stephen McLeish, SC, has previously told the court that the contracts with tenderers will be signed in September or October, but not before the close of business on August 29.
The parties will next appear in court on August 25.

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