Government ‘very transparent’ on car park scandal despite rejecting request for documents

The minister who refused to release key documents over the $600 million commuter car park scandal has claimed the Morrison Government has been "very transparent".

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher faced the National Press Club and was quizzed multiple times over documents related to the pre-election blitz, which the auditor-general found targeted government seats with taxpayer cash.

Mr Fletcher blocked a request in Parliament to release spreadsheets and documents, including one cited by the audit office as a list of "top 20 marginals".

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Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher faced the National Press Club today.

The minister claimed it "would disclose the deliberations of Cabinet".

His department has also rejected a freedom of information request and released some pages entirely blacked out.

The Prime Minister's Office has refused a request, claiming it would "substantially and unreasonably interfere with the performance of the Prime Minister's functions".

Mr Fletcher, who also holds the Communications portfolio, once claimed press freedom was a "bedrock principle" for the government, was asked why the public didn't have a right to see the car park documents.

"So I have simply applied the same principles in what I've said about that particular material," he said.

"So there is nothing particularly unusual in that."

9News reporter Jonathan Kearsley quizzed Mr Fletcher on the car park fund.

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Forty-seven car parks were promised in the lead-up to the 2019 election.

Just three have been built and a number have been scrapped.

The auditor-general was scathing of the program, which he found pushed projects into seats the government held or wanted to win, particularly in Melbourne.

"The distribution of projects selected reflected the geographic and political profile of those given the opportunity by the government to identify candidates for funding consideration," Auditor-General Grant Hehir said.

In July, the Australian National Audit Office's (ANAO) Brian Boyd told a Senate hearing: "It started being initially termed as being 'top 20 marginals' … to touch base with the top 20 marginal — either the member of the House of Representatives, the duty senator – to ask them 'what projects in your electorate are worthy of being put through this program?'" Mr Boyd said.

He added the offices of then Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge and the Prime Minister shared what was described as "a marginal electorate list".

Mr Tudge has said he did not see such a list.

The Prime Minister has refused to say if he saw it.

Today, Mr Fletcher said: "The minister of the day made decisions clearly within authority and as a consequence, we are getting on with delivering infrastructure projects around Australia."

The government's release of the end of budget year financial statements revealed it spent $100 million less than it forecast.

Asked if he would support a similar program at the next election, Mr Fletcher responded: "The Minister at the time, Alan Tudge, made the decision he did based on the policy and commitment to reduce congestion, we are focused on delivering a wide range of projects we committed to, under the Urban Congestion Fund."

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