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Canberra to keep East West Link business case secret

Date

Clay Lucas

The Abbott government has pushed back an attempt by federal Labor to obtain the secret business case for Victoria’s East West Link tollway.

The East West Link is an 18-kilometre cross-city freeway extending across Melbourne from the Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road.

Labor senator Kim Carr had demanded the Senate hand over any documents provided to the federal government as part of Canberra’s decision to give Victoria $3 billion for the road.

But on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss tabled correspondence from independent funding advisor Infrastructure Australia in the Senate.

Infrastructure Australia’s coordinator John Fitzgerald confirmed to the Senate that Victoria had given the federal government the tollway’s full business case for the first stage of the road from Clifton Hill to Flemington.

An ‘‘interim business case’’ for a second stage in Melbourne’s west had also been received, he wrote.

Mr Fitzgerald wrote that, because the road was ‘‘now in the advanced stages of procurement’’, the project was at a ‘‘commercially sensitive stage’’.

‘‘I would therefore request the Senate to consider further its request at this stage in light of these circumstances,’’ Mr Fitzgerald wrote.

Senator Carr told the Senate in response that he did not believe the negotiations were commercially confidential, and that the business case did ‘‘not enjoy executive privilege’’.

‘‘The government's non-disclosure continues a process of intense secrecy which is now becoming all too pervasive,’’ Senator Carr said.

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