FORMER Perth MHR Alannah MacTiernan says there is potential for a last-minute State Government appeal against a Federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) decision giving her 75 government documents about the $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link.
“Perhaps Premier Colin Barnett will put in an appeal thinking it will give him 12-14 months for him to sign the Link’s contracts, but I hope not,” Ms MacTiernan said after her win last week.
In 2014, she asked for Main Roads WA and Federal Department of Infrastructure (FDoI) communication about the proposed 12km, truck toll route from Roe Highway to East Fremantle.
Ms MacTiernan, a former WA planning minister, contends the PFL was Canberra politicians’ “thought bubble” to fill WA’s ailing budget gap and help sell Fremantle Port, but it would halt 30 years of planning for the new Kwinana outer port.
“If we don’t have the right spending now, we won’t be able to do the outer harbour, and this will affect our economy in the future,” Ms MacTiernan said.
The government defence of her FOI request included claims the documents’ release would compromise the Main Roads-FDoI relationship, reveal in-confidence information and affect gathering information for future projects.
Last Tuesday, AAT senior member Chelsea Walsh decided the Government’s contention was “too broad”, and descriptions about what warranted them not being made public were not specific enough to avoid scrutiny.
“Some of the ‘descriptions’ are more informative than others are, but on the whole, provided limited insight into the particular nature of the information contained in the contested documents,” Ms Walsh said.
The 75 documents include traffic and congestion surveys, costs and expected PFL toll income.
Ms Walsh allowed the traffic and congestion surveys to be released because the FDoI had already made a similar survey public.
She said not releasing PFL cost estimates would be “misguided” because damage to FDoI-MR relationship was unlikely when the costing had been done in the earliest stages of the project, before any detailed design plan.
Documents that could help residents’ concerns about PFL diesel and particle pollution were not part of the FOI request.
There is about a month to appeal the decision.