The Education Minister, Martin Dixon’s Department have refused to release information about the future of one of Wyndham’s most unnecessary eyesores, the former Glen Devon Primary School site.

In response to a freedom of information application from Tarneit MP Tim Pallas, the Department said that it had in its possession both a business case for the retention of the site and a cost benefit analysis, as well as a draft Departmental briefing and a draft discussion paper from Wyndham City Council.

However, the Department refused to release either document publicly, saying that these documents were “pre-decisional and could lead to ill-informed public debate.”

Insultingly, the FOI response provided Mr Pallas with only three documents, of which two were already publicly accessible and one a copy of a letter that had been previously
sent to Mr Pallas himself. All three documents provided nothing but excuses and
delays instead of any information about the timing of a decision or the Minister’s current thinking.

Minister Dixon clearly has information in his possession, but the affected community is not allowed to see it, based on the somewhat ridiculous view that providing more information to the public will make them less informed. So instead the public are told
nothing. This gives a whole to meaning to freedom of information.

The Glen Devon Primary School ceased to be operational at the beginning of the Baillieu Government’s term in office and no decision has been made, despite clear community concern, a deteriorating environmental and security situation and, it is now evident,
the availability of multiple sources of independent advice.

As shown in one of the few documents released by the Department – an already publicly available adjournment response from Minister Dixon to Government MP Andrew Elsbury – the cost benefit analysis was completed in November 2011.

One year on and the Minister has not been able to come to a decision, while residents in the surrounding streets must endure every day the growing levels of garbage being
dumped, the increasingly dilapidated buildings and security concerns of an abandoned set of buildings near their homes.

The Wyndham Community deserves to know what will happen to this site, which if acted on immediately could have become a valuable community resource. Because of the harm that has now been done to the area by Minister Dixon’s dithering, the Wyndham community also deserves to know why it has taken so long to review the advice and make a decision.

Surely it can’t be that hard – maybe even simple decisions are too hard for this do-nothing Minister.

Related Topics