The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government has demanded Member for Wollongong, Paul Scully, cough up $3,500 so he can get access to information on the plans to upgrade the Wollongong Entertainment Centre (WEC).
Mr Scully requested access under freedom of information legislation to the masterplan for the WEC prepared by KPMG and other advice prepared for the Minister for Sport and Acting Minister for Sport, including briefings from the Office of Sport on the progress of upgrading the facility.
Yesterday he was told by the Office of Sport that he’d have to pay $3,457.00 to access 770 “relevant documents” and that it would take just over 100 hours to process his application.
There is no guarantee that Mr Scully would actually get any of the 770 “relevant documents” already identified because no review of the public interest considerations against disclosure had been completed yet.
The documents could also be refused or heavily redacted because the Office of Sport has to also consult one other “third party”.
Mr Scully said, “A Government only makes these extraordinary payment demands if it has something it really is determined to hide.
“There appears to be 770 reasons why the Government wants to hide these documents behind a shroud of secrecy and a big bill.
“I’ll now be referring this request by the Office of Sport to the NSW Information Commissioner for a review and asking the Commissioner to waive the demand for the $3,457.00 fee and release the information so the Wollongong community can see what this Government is so determined to keep secret”, he said.
Mr Scully said he was surprised by the Office of Sport’s attitude given public statements by the Acting Minister for Sport, Geoff Lee, that he had requested Venues NSW undertake consultations with stakeholders and report to him as a “priority with regards to the next steps for the Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct.”
These comments were echoed in correspondence from the Minister to Mr Scully just last week. (See attachment)
Mr Scully’s freedom of information legislation request included access to the following:
- The masterplan for the Wollongong Entertainment Centre (WEC) prepared by KPMG;
- Advice provided by KPMG to Venues NSW, the Minister for Sport and the Acting Minister for Sport on the estimated cost of upgrading the WEC by implementing this masterplan;
- Any emails, draft briefings and final briefings prepared for the Minister for Sport and Acting Minister for Sport in relation to the funding, business case development and upgrades to the WEC;
- Any requests by Venues NSW for funding the design, business case development and upgrades to the WEC;
- The consultative program with key stakeholders by KPMG, as noted in the Acting Minister’s letter to Mr Scully (Reference: CRML20/32);
- Any emails, draft briefings and final briefings by Venues NSW to the Acting Minister for Sport on the Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct as noted in the Minister’s letter to Mr Scully (Reference: CRML 20/32);
- Final briefing paper for meetings between Acting Minister for Sport and Illawarra Business Chamber, Regional Development Australia Illawarra and Wollongong City Council.
“There is no reason why this information should remain hidden by the Government.
“It is information that it is selectively released to individuals and organisations hand-picked by the Minister, but it is information that should be released because everyone in Wollongong has a stake in the future of the entertainment centre.
“These documents were produced and paid for the taxpayer’s of Wollongong and the Government should release all of the 770 relevant documents the Office of Sport has identified so we can see what is being considered for the WEC.
“But it seems this Government has secrets it wants to keep and it wants to keep us in the dark”, Mr Scully said.