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Monday, August 14, 2006

FOI in the news

Media reports based on FOI applications over the last 10 days include:

Sunday Age 6 August: “Simple as ABC Minister you help us, we’ll help you” – ABC Learning offered to work with the Federal Government to show that the coalition government had been proactive in addressing childcare issues.

Daily Telegraph 7 August:
Criminals off scot-free” – The NSW Government wrote off about $9million over the last 2 years owed by 1300 convicted criminals in compensation to victims of crime.

Little school in big crisis” – more than 1100 families are on waiting lists to get children into pre schools attached to public primary and infant schools across the state.

Herald Sun 7 August:
Brack’s $1million keen green spin machine” – the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment spent over $1million on 18 communications managers and advisors in the last 12 months.

Police reject 1 in 3” – almost a third of those who seek to join Victorian Police are rejected because of criminal histories, excessive driving offences, problems with physical fitness or a failure to pass personality tests.

The Australian 8 August: “PM’s department blocks release of papers behind IR reforms” – the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has issued a certificate to block access to papers concerning the development of the Government’s industrial relations reform.
Sydney Morning Herald FOI Editor Matthew Moore in his “What they won’t tell you” column on 12 August "Now don't you talk about that" commented that the public interest grounds given for the certificate suggest that public discussion should be limited to the law we now have – discussion about the options that might have improved the law are claimed not to be in the public interest

The Daily Telegraph 8 August: “Commissioner’s sins of omission” – Kelvin Bissett the Investigations Editor reflects on developments in the NSW Police Training College exposure and the attempts to block access to information.

The Herald Sun 9 August:
$1.7m fee to fill job vacancies” – the Victorian Government spent $1.7m on one head hunter to hand pick recruits for 98 public servant positions in 21 months.

Big spender resigns – Boss encouraged to jump” – the Melbourne Market Authority boss has resigned after the paper revealed details of $210,000 in expenses claimed over the last 5 years.

The Age 10 August: “ Government under fire over hidden documents” – the Victorian Opposition has claimed that the Director of Multicultural Affairs failed to advise the Department’s FOI Officer of documents held relevant to an FOI application in order to “avoid any embarrassment” for the Government in the lead up to the election.

Sydney Morning Herald 12 August: “Taronga needs a thick hide as price of bringing in elephants soars” – costs of bringing Asian elephants to the Taronga Zoo have climbed by $6million.

Sunday Herald Sun 13 August: “He looked Gracie in the eye, then he killed her” – documents about Victoria’s horrific 2004 murder of a pregnant woman and her daughter reveal details of police evidence.

Canberra Times 13 August: “Greenhouse water pollution report not so transparent” – Comcare has refused to release details of a report into heavy metal contamination (lead levels of 10 to 16 times the recommended level) of the Greenhouse Office’s water supply, and suggested the paper make an FOI application to the Office.

Herald Sun 14 August: “Wild over fat cat outing - $15,000 zoo trip but many still clueless” – the Victorian Office of Multicultural Affairs spent almost $15,000 on a 2 day management conference at Melbourne Zoo.

The Australian 14 August: “Serviced apartments stand ground – property operators of serviced apartments in NSW have hit back at allegations they offer shoddy services by pointing to data that there are only 284 complaints relating to holiday rentals in 2005.

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