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Sunday, May 21, 2006

FOI in the news

In addition to media coverage of the High Court FOI challenge already posted over the last week, other recent media reports based on FOI applications include:

The Sunday Age 14 May: “Ugly crime plagues the casino” – a 2002 report into crime at Crown Casino in Melbourne showed that a serious incident is committed in the precinct every six hours: 4239 crimes were reported over a 3 year period including 4 rapes, 19 other sex offences, 75 drug related incidents, 22 robberies and 417 assaults.

The Age 15 May: “Police defend drink-driving leeway” – documents reveal that the Victorian Police apply a 20% tolerance test in administering blood alcohol tests.

The Herald Sun 15 May: “Secrets of the grave” – the Victorian Police denied access to a request for the criminal record of William Watkins, a notorious rapist and murderer shot by the Police earlier this year. Acting Supt Lisa McMeeken said in the letter of determination: "As I am unable to ascertain from Mr Watkins his views on the release of such personal information, or gain his consent for the disclosure of the information, I have therefore determined that the release of any criminal history would be an unreasonable disclosure." The family and others (see this opinion piece in the Adelaide Advertiser) were outraged by the decision. The Age reported this one liner from the President of People Against Lenient Sentencing: "Give me a shovel and I'll dig Watkins up and ask him myself”.

In a story the next day The Age reported that the Premier and the Police had indicated there was nothing to hide but disclosure should await the completion of a coronial inquiry into the death of the two sisters allegedly murdered by Watkins before he was killed.

The Sydney Morning Herald 15 May: “Harbour development to increase city’s traffic woes” – documents reveal expected traffic increases in the area approved for development at East Darling Harbour.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald 16 May: “ US took Downer to task over China” – the US sought a “please explain” when Foreign Minister Downer said Australia would not automatically defend Taiwan in the event of an attack. The Age newspaper was refused access to some documents on the grounds that disclosure would damage Australia’s international relations and divulge information communicated in confidence by a foreign government.

The Sydney Morning Herald 18 May – “Transport shambles” – an independent report on light rail says that reliance on buses as the main transport strategy for the city will lead to further congestion.

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