THE power companies behind a large terminal station upgrade in Brunswick were active participants in the behind-the-scenes state government approval process, suggesting action the government could take to allow the development.
Documents released under Freedom of Information have shed further light on the approval process for the $271 million terminal station expansion – an upgrade the state government says is essential to secure the supply of power to Melbourne’s CBD and inner-east.
Residents opposing the terminal station have slammed the decision to rezone the land, calling for an independent review of the government’s decision.
The new documents, released to Brunswick MLA Jane Garrett under Freedom of Information laws, include emails and letters between the Department of Primary Industries, the Department of Planning and Community Development and power company CitiPower and Powercor Australia.
The documents include notes from a briefing from power companies and the Australian Energy Market Operator to high-ranking state government officials in October last year, while the planning application was still before the local council.
The briefing documents predict that, no matter what the council decided, the issue would likely go to VCAT “causing unacceptable delays” and suggest how the government could intervene.
In Novemberlast year, Energy Minister Michael O’Brien wrote to Mr Guy requesting he make himself the responsible authority for the site, rather than Moreland City Council.
Before that letter was signed, the Department of Primary Industries wrote an email, whose recipients’nameswere not released, but which Labor says was “almost certainly” addressed to the power companies asking for a copy of their letter to Mr Guy.
“We’ve prepared a letter of support (and associated brief) from our end for our Minister,” the department wrote, “but it would clearly be desirable to see what we’re supporting!”
Then in early January, CitiPower and Powercor Australia wrote to DPI asking for an update on the “proposed rezoning of the site”, two weeks before the rezoning recommendation was put to Mr Guy for approval. Ms Garrett said the documents showed a “deeply embedded relationship’’ between power companies and the government.
“It is outrageous,” she said.
The site of the upgraded facility is near leafy Merri Creek. Residents group member Chris Black said the findings confirmed residents’ “worst fears”.