NSW government 'capitulates' over papers

The NSW Parliament has ruled the government must hand over three sets of documents after a rogue Liberal MP crossed the floor to support an opposition motion.

NSW Government Upper House Leader Don Harwin

NSW Upper House MP Don Harwin has been forced to provide confidential documents to parliament. (AAP)

The NSW government has sensationally backed down from its fight to keep a swathe of controversial documents secret after one of its senior ministers was threatened with suspension.

The government has for months refused to cough up documents shedding light on some of its most controversial policies, despite being required by parliament standing orders to do so.

The papers relate to the government's multibillion-dollar stadium spend, a plan to move the Powerhouse Museum to western Sydney, and an independent review into child protection services.

The government's secrecy prompted rogue Liberal MP Matthew Mason-Cox to cross the floor on Tuesday night to vote against his government and censure colleague Don Harwin.

The vote of no confidence forced Mr Harwin, the government's leader in the upper house, to produce the secret documents by Wednesday morning, or risk being suspended from parliament.

While the energy minister did not produce the documents by 9.30am, he told the house on Wednesday morning he intended to make them available by Friday afternoon.

Mr Harwin is the first NSW Liberal government leader to be censured.

Labor MP Adam Searle said the government's decision to produce the documents was a step forward towards "greater openness and transparency in public administration".

"We have seen a complete capitulation by the Berejiklian government to the asserted power of the upper house to compel the production of documents," Mr Searle told reporters on Wednesday.

He said the government's continued claim the documents were "cabinet in confidence" had led to widespread suspicion.

"The Berejiklian government just does not want to let the public know what they're up to."

Opposition leader Luke Foley, despite claiming a political win, criticised the government for choosing to file the elusive documents at 5pm on Friday.

"Isn't it tricky - they'll deliver it on Friday night before a long weekend, when the parliament's not sitting next week, to avoid further scrutiny," Mr Foley said.

Greens MP David Shoebridge also raised concerns with the government's timing of the release of documents.

"Yes we had a win today, yes we had a very clear assertion of the parliament's powers, but again we've got the Berejiklian government playing with the parliament, playing with the people of NSW and delivering."

3 min read
Published 6 June 2018 at 4:24pm
Source: AAP