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Sunday, May 28, 2006

FOI in the news

Media reports based on FOI applications/issues over the last week included:

The Age 19 May: “How to stop MPs lying” – an opinion piece by former Federal and Victorian MP and minister, Race Mathews urges a wide range of initiatives to address public distrust of political leaders including defending and extending FOI legislation and strengthening watchdogs on public probity, transparency and accountability.

The Daily Telegraph 19 May: “Roads doomed by late trains” – reports on the long delays in building a rail link to Sydney’s north west. The report says that an FOI request revealed that only two documents were located, both claimed to be exempt.

The Australian 20 May: “Drug research program fails to raise funds” – documents released by the Federal Industry Department reveal that a $150 million government program to boost the pharmaceutical industry has been underspent by 50%, and delivered a net return of $0.3 million. At the time the program was introduced three years ago the minister responsible predicted it would lead to a $500 million increase in investment.

In an editorial on 20 May (scan down to "Rann's secret mission")the Australian referred to the fuss in South Australia over the Premier’s unannounced overseas visit – referred to publicly only in a one liner in the Government Gazette.

The Courier Mail 22 May: “Prisoners to lose phone sex tapes” – the Queensland Police Minister says the Government will close a loophole whereby prisoners seek to access the Corrective Services recording of their own telephone-sex calls which are then sold or bartered in prison. The Minister said that currently if the sex partner agreed for the content to be released, the Department had no choice but to release it.

The Age 23 May: “Hundreds die before surgery” – 1500 people on the elective surgery waiting lists in Victoria died in the past 3 years before their number came up.

The Age also carried a story about expenditure on travel and entertainment by Victorian public servants.

ABC Television 7.30 Report 23 May: “Allegations may re-open case into youth detention centre” - the ABC Investigative Unit reported on a series of incidents 18 years ago in a Youth Detention Centre in Queensland concerning allegations of rape and evidence that a report into the incident was shredded.

The Telegraph 23 May: “FOI: Freedom for governments to keep us ignorant” – reports that the NSW Greens plan to propose significant reforms to FOI legislation including an independent Public Information Access Commission. (No link available).

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