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Feds want freight link documents kept secret

Trucks travelling east along a busy section of High Street between Stirling Highway and Carrington Street. Picture by Megan Powell/The West Australian

The Federal Government is refusing to release nearly 90 documents about the $1.6 billion taxpayer-funded Perth Freight Link on the grounds that to do so would compromise commercially sensitive modelling work done by by an accounting firm and could damage relations between the Commonwealth and WA.

Labor MHR for Perth Alannah MacTiernan has been hit by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development with a bill for nearly $2500 for a Freedom of Information request on the grounds that the documents she is seeking are “primarily of interest to you (Ms MacTiernan) and not of a general public interest”.

The fee assessment was confirmed by the Privacy Commissioner, a decision that Ms MacTiernan is appealing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Among the documents she is seeking to have released are justification details for the Roe Highway extension, briefing notes, traffic modelling on streets around Fremantle Port, truck volumes, and technical notes.

In the decision to refuse access to the documents, the department said Ernst & Young had submitted that modelling prepared by them for Main Roads WA was commercially sensitive and prepared using their proprietary intellectual property.

Main Roads WA objected to the release of its documents on the grounds that “information is inherently confidential if it is not in the public domain”.

Ms MacTiernan said the Department was being completely contemptuous in its handling of the case.