Wendy Lovell taken to VCAT over super school documents

By James Bennett

Wendy Lovell says she has the "upper hand" at a February Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing to determine if the Victorian Government must release information regarding risks involved with Greater Shepparton Secondary College that was sought through Freedom of Information requests.

The Member for Northern Victoria said she had made numerous requests for the government to release the information that would expose the risks.

Ms Lovell said the requests were blocked by the government, which said the documents "would be contrary to the public interest."

In December last year, the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner ruled the documents were "not contrary to the public interest".

The government has now taken Ms Lovell to VCAT and will need to present evidence to overturn the decision made by OVIC public access deputy commissioner Joanne Kummrow.

Ms Lovell said it was appalling that the government was trying to hide information.

She said if there were no major risks, the government should just release the documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

“I have no idea what these risks are, so it's concerning they're going to extraordinary lengths to want to hide this from Shepparton,” Ms Lovell said.

“This government has a reputation of delaying FOIs, when they says they'll be an open government.”

Ms Lovell said although she had the "upper hand" she was unsure how VCAT would rule.

A Department of Education and Training spokesperson said the department complied with FOI legislation.

"In this instance, as is standard practice, the department has sought a review of the Victorian Public Access Deputy Commissioner’s decision,” the spokesperson said.

“As the matter is before VCAT we are unable to comment further."

It cost the government $947.80 to lodge the application with VCAT.

Ms Lovell said there were more costs involved including the legal fees to Maddocks Lawyers, that would come at the expense of the taxpayer.

Ms Lovell said she might not be appearing at the VCAT hearing due to a "long-term commitment" but said she would be legally represented if she was unable to attend.

The VCAT hearing is on February 17.