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Sunday, July 30, 2006

FOI in the news

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

Daily Telegraph 24 July:
Secret police file of shame” - The NSW police training College at Goulburn has become riddled with poisonous culture where sexual and workplace harassment is rife according to The Daily Telegraph. This report is based on documents released 12 months after the FOI application and following a complaint to the Ombudsman. A separate AAP report said that the Police Commissioner will review all serious allegations of misconduct.

“$1.6m on buses as trains fail” NSW Countrylink spent more than $1.6 million providing emergency buses in the first four months of this year because of derailments, missed connections, late trains and mechanical failures. The figure -- on top of the money spent providing buses when planned trackwork is being done -- has blown out to $4 million over the past two years.

The Australian 24 July: “Aged care Michelin Guide mooted” Choosing a nursing home could be as easy as browsing a Michelin-style guide that assigns a star rating to the food, services, and quality of care providing by different facilities.A five-star rating system was just one of the options considered in a report commissioned by the federal Government on how to best match people with available aged care homes. But the report, obtained by The Australian under Freedom of Information legislation, finds a rating system that could be used by a matchmaking agency not dissimilar to a travel agent is not feasible at present, because long waiting lists mean most people have no choice.

The Herald Sun 25 July: “Fatter and fatter” Melbourne Market Authority chief Bob Penter has spent almost $210,000 in expenses in the past five years and spent a total of three months overseas at a cost of $85,000 between 2000 and 2005.

The Australian 26 July: “Minister exposed on parrot” Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell ignored explicit advice from his own department that stated a $220million windfarm posed no obvious threat to an endangered parrot and should be approved. Senator Campbell vetoed the project despite warnings from one of his top bureaucrats that using the orange-bellied parrot to stop the windfarm could have widespread ramifications for coastal development in four states. See also this report in the Age.

The Age 28 July: “Switched off on digital TV “ in this opinion piece the author claims the Federal Department of Communications responded to an FOI application for information about conversion from analogue to digital television by saying there was already plenty of information publicly available.

The Weekend Australian 29 July: "Cheques and balances"- this article about Centrelink includes information obtained in response to an FOI application that almost one in two records in a random sample contained errors.

Sydney Morning Herald 29 July: In his weekly “What they won’t tell you column” FOI Editor Matthew Moore in “Dead letter office” reports on a one year delay in seeking access to a letter to a NSW farmer regarding illegal land clearing. You can see the letter that caused the fuss.

As usual some links not available in free content.

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