FREEDOM of Information (FOI) requests over the Ballarat Station Redevelopment are being ignored, stalled and denied by government bodies. SOS Ballarat members have made 5 FOI requests over the past eight months, with only one being answered, and 4 going well beyond the legal response time. Spokesperson for SOS Ballarat, Gerald Jenzen is critical of the lack of information. “It gets to the point where you wonder what they are hiding and whether there is a conspiracy to keep the public from seeing how incompetent the handling of this issue has been,” he said.
Government bodies have 45 days in which to provide information, with another 14 days if they choose to transfer the request to another body.
“Three of the overdue FOI requests are about basic information. One is to see the feasibility and business case for the Station Master Plan. That has been denied on the grounds that disclosure could expose the State to unacceptable risk in finalising contracts with contractors. We have appealed against this ruling, but must wait until March before the appeal is considered -by then 10 months from the initial request,” said Mr Jenzen.
“Another is to see the written record of a request to Ballarat City Council by the Department of Regional Development Victoria for the planning control of the Station precinct to be ceded by Council to the Minister for Planning.’
“The final one is to see the documentation justifying the declaration by VicTrack that land at the Ballarat Station is surplus to future transport needs,” explained Mr Jenzen.