Labor loses court bid to make East West Link business case public

The Age: Labor loses court bid to make East West Link business case public. August 26, 2014. Adam Carey. Transport Reporter for The Age

Labor’s court bid to force the Napthine government to release its secret business case for the East West Link has failed.

The opposition had hoped to compel the government to make public the full cost-benefit analysis of its signature road project, costed at $6 billion to $8 billion, arguing that it should not be exempted from freedom-of-information laws.

But Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal senior member Gerard Butcher found in the government’s favour in a decision released on Tuesday, ruling the business case was cabinet-in-confidence.

Mr Butcher found the evidence of three public servants that the business case was prepared for submission to cabinet “far outweighs the evidence” of Labor’s two witnesses that the document was too large and technical to have been read in full by cabinet members.

A short-form business case released by the government last year claimed stage one of the East West Link, between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink, would deliver $1.40 benefit for each dollar spent.

But Labor’s shadow roads minister Luke Donnellan said the billions spent on the project would be better spent on hospitals, schools and public transport. He called on Premier Denis Napthine to delay signing contracts for the project and take the issue to November’s election.

“Denis Napthine won’t release the business case and we still don’t have traffic projections for this dud tunnel,” Mr Donnellan said.

Labor has said it would honour any contract signed before the election should it win.

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