Government defies order to release East West Link documents

The debate over whether to build the East West Link tunnel was a key point of difference between the major parties before the 2014 election. In an effort to lock in its plan, the Napthine Government signed a contract as well as a controversial “side letter” promising compensation to the builder if the contract later proved to be illegal. Before the election, Labor promised it would “release the full business case, the full contract and the full side deal … and every Victorian will be able to see what’s gone on”. However, after winning power it decided to keep the documents secret while complex negotiations continue to cancel the project and minimise the cost to government. The Legislative Council passed a motion calling on the Government to honour its promise and release the documents, but Premier Daniel Andrews has refused to do so. This may result in a penalty against the Government’s leader in the upper house, Gavin Jennings: “He could be suspended from the chamber, possibly indefinitely.” This is one mechanism the legislature can use to scrutinise and hold the executive to account.