The NSW government will be forced to reveal the full WestConnex business case within two weeks at the behest of the upper house.
The parliament passed Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi’s motion last week, with the support of Labor and the Shooters and Fishers, calling for the final business case and all related advice to be tabled.
So far, the government has only released the executive summary but not the full document or its drafts, arguing that doing so would damage the government’s position in ongoing commercial negotiations.
“There is a range of commercial imperatives that would be totally compromised if released at this stage, not the least of which being that New South Wales taxpayers could get ripped off,” the Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay, told the chamber.
He accused the Greens and Labor of an ambush that would have “serious consequences” for NSW.
“You are idiots walking across an area of great development for this state that will fix our traffic congestion and economic development,” he said.
Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack went even further, suggesting the call for papers would “scrape the guts out of a tender process that has not even been concluded” and amounted to governance “redolent of Robert Mugabe”. She estimated the cost of the order would be greater than $400,000.
But Ms Faruqi said inner west communities are upset about a lack of transparency and consultation around the WestConnex plans. She said the documents released so far were “devoid of detail and shamefully vague”, unbefitting of such an expensive major project.
“The WestConnex Tollway is a 12 billion dollar lemon that will do nothing to ease Sydney’s congestion crisis,” she said.
Leichhardt Greens councillor and WestConnex opponent, Rochelle Porteous, said the business case would reveal a lot of useful information that is currently unavailable, including traffic analysis, rezoning and detailed planning for the Leichhardt, Annandale and Camperdown areas.
“They still haven’t come out with the preferred route, the stacks, the ramps, where they’re going to out them,” she told the Inner West Independent.
“They’re obviously planning to trash some of the heritage zoning that currently exists – where are they planning to trash and who is really benefiting from WestConnex? Because it’s certainly not the local communities.”
Cr Porteous dismissed the government’s claim that releasing the confidential information will damage its commercial position.
“The fact is that WestConnex is public infrastructure. It needs public scrutiny,” she said.
“It’s unprecedented, the level of secrecy that the government has invoked.”