Walkers to submit an appeal against Information Commission decision

VISION: An impression of the Toondah Harbour foreshore parklands lagoon pool.
VISION: An impression of the Toondah Harbour foreshore parklands lagoon pool.

DEVELOPERS Walker Corporation will mount an appeal to the Office of the Information Commissioner to keep 589-pages of documents related to the Toondah Harbour redevelopment secret.  

Redland City Council was told by Assistant Information Commissioner Anna Rickard last month that it had no grounds too deny access to the information under Right To Information laws.

While council did not object to the documents being released, other parties involved had the right to appeal, with Walker’s taking up the option.

A Walker Corp spokesman said the company would appeal Ms Rickard’s decision.

“Walker strong supports an open and transparent approach to the Toondah Harbour revitalisation and have demonstrated that consistently,” he said.

“However, in this case we do not agree with the commissioner and will defend our position via an appeal.

“This is based on the potential release of commercial information within the agreement that should by law be kept in-confidence.”

The documents relate to parts of a development application and a deed of variation not already released.

Redlands2030 secretary Chris Walker had told councillors at a council general meeting on December 12 that they needed to act more transparently and in the public interest.

He had applied to the Office of the Information Commissioner to get the agreements released after council refused him access last year.

He had agreed not to access some of the information within the 589-pages including Walker's financial return from the development, the development’s preliminary designs and some details related to community infrastructure works and costings.

Ms Rickard decided that council had no grounds under Right to Information laws to keep the remainder of the information secret, dismissing legal objections by the council, Walker Corp and the Queensland Economic Development minister.

She said that decisions made by government about development and sale of public land to private entities needed to be transparent.

“...It is my view that considerations meriting disclosure are, in this case, of significant weight, sufficient to displace any factors that might be argued in favour of non-disclosure,” she said.

Protesters have long called for the high-density redevelopment to be canned, saying the environmental impacts on wetlands used by migratory birds and the area’s koala population would be too great.

The development would feature the use of public land which eventually would become units and a marina which would become privately owned.

Mr Walker said it would be disappointing if Walker’s action blocked the release of the documents.

“The OIC’s decision notes that Redlands2030 agreed not to pursue access to certain types of information which included information about Walker group’s financial return and preliminary design information,” he said.

“But it was the OIC’s view that it’s in the public interest for most of the information in the Toondah agreements to be released. 

“The OIC said that decisions about the sale of public land should be attended by the highest possible levels of transparency and accountability.”