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Sunday, August 06, 2006

FOI in the news

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

Sunday Age 30 July: “Games windfall bogus - money was due anyway” – The Victorian Government has been accused of exaggerating the financial benefit of the Commonwealth Games after it was revealed two-thirds of the money spent on the event would have come to Victoria anyway.

Herald Sun 31 July: “Haermeyer in European grand tour” – Victorian Minister Andre Haermeyer spent around $35,000 on a 16-day taxpayer-funded trip to Europe, including $10,000 on a motor vehicle kept on standby for up to 12 hours every day.

The Australian 4 August: “Pinder's war of independence” - The legal foundation for the Queensland Law Society is so flawed that the society's new president says it can be legally required to help promote government policies and is subject to a range of state laws, including theFOI Act.

Sydney Morning Herald 5 August: In his weekly “What they won’t tell you” column, FOI Editor Matthew Moore in “What price a new Police Force” recounts an unsuccessful attempt to obtain documents concerning the change of name (or reversion to a previous name) of the NSW Police – the Police claim to hold no documents, while the only document held by the Ministry for Police is said to be exempt as a Cabinet document.

News reports in the Daily Telegraph in the previous week about sexual misconduct at the NSW Police Training College based on documents obtained under FOI by Kelvin Bissett after a 12 month battle, have been followed by a range of other stories, and to the tabling of a report on "Misconduct at the NSW Police College" by the NSW Ombudsman. The Ombudsman says the FOI "application was refused, on the basis that any disclosure may be prejudicial to the proper working of NSW Police. It was only after the Ombudsman review this decision tha documents were recently provided to the journalist".

Sun Herald 6 August: “$7m spent to defend state MPs and staff "- The NSW Government has paid lawyers $6.9 million to defend ministers and staff who have appeared before official inquiries in the past three years. The payments include legal representation before the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Police Integrity Commission and the Ombudsman. This was just the tip of the iceberg, suggest figures obtained under freedom of information last week by the Opposition's Wastewatch Committee.

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