The Government needs to stop hiding behind spurious arguments for not releasing the secret letter between Ministers that dramatically altered Wellington’s transport future, National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford needs to explain his role in what is increasingly looking like a Government cover-up.
“The refusal of Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter to release the letter she sent Twyford weeks before the Government pushed back construction of Wellington’s second Mt Victoria Tunnel for at least a decade led to farcical scenes in Parliament today.
“It has become so serious that even the Speaker of the House isn’t convinced by the Government’s justification and is seeking advice from the Chief Ombudsman.
“In answers to Parliamentary Written Questions, Julie Anne Genter confirmed both she and Phil Twyford were communicating as Ministers. That makes the letter subject to the Official Information Act and leaves her with no argument for keeping it hidden a second longer.
“As the Speaker himself noted in Parliament today, he regularly obtained letters between Ministers when he was in Opposition.
“If the Government has nothing to hide then why is it going to so much effort to keep the public from seeing how much the Greens influenced Let’s Get Wellington Moving?
“It’s a slap in the face to Wellingtonians if it thinks there’s no public interest in a document that discusses $6.4 billion in taxpayer spending and 20-plus years of transport projects.
“My colleague, Wellington-based MP Nicola Willis, has once again written to the Ombudsman requesting this letter be released in light of the significant public interest in its contents.
“It’s looking like we can add the Government’s pledge to be ‘the most open and transparent ever’ to its list of broken promises.”
Parliamentary debate on whether the letter is subject to the OIA can be found here