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Monday, August 21, 2006

FOI in the news

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

Daily Telegraph 15 August: "RailCorp is taken to the cleaners" - RailCorp has revealed it has paid out 189 claims last year for damage caused by filthy seats, protruding screws, train doors that closed too quickly and jagged edges on escalators.

Herald Sun 15 August: "470 pit bulls registered, 5500 not listed - Owners hide vicious dogs" - 470 registered American pit bull terriers are living in back yards in Victoria. And most of them are in the western suburbs, the latest head count on the dangerous breed shows. The vicious dogs have been officially declared to councils and are kept under strict conditions, including desexing, to ensure public safety.

The Australian 16 August: "Dr Death's long shadow" - examines the fall out from the Queensland health care fiasco and the culture of secrecy and abuse of the FOI Act in the health system, exposed in the report of retired Supreme Court judge Geoff Davies.

The Age 17 August: "Consultant showbags top $10m - Showground project fees revealed" - More than $10 million has been spent on consultants for the Victorian Government's Royal Melbourne Showgrounds redevelopment. Documents obtained by the Opposition under Freedom of Information laws show that the Government has forked out about $100.5 million over four years for the project, which is almost $8 million over budget and a year late.

Herald Sun 17 August: "VicRoads cashes in - Learners failing the test"- one in three teens failed the learner permit test last year, netting VicRoads millions in reapplication fees. Young Victorians spent more than $13.4 million sitting their learner permit and probationary licence tests last year. They spent about $3 million failing their tests.Documents obtained under freedom of information show almost 30,000 teenagers failed their learner permit in 2005, while just over 50,000 passed on their first attempt.

Sydney Morning Herald 17 August: "A whiff of tobacco about Bush's new man" - In this opinion piece Richard Ackland comments about the new American Ambassador in Canberra and FOI applications in the US seeking information about his role in settling a controversial tobacco compensation case.

Canberra Times 18 August: "Controversial stun guns approved for permanent use in the ACT" -
Taser stun guns have been adopted for permanent use by police in the ACT, after a 12-month trial of the controversial weapon was deemed a success. ACT Policing approved recently the use of X26 Tasers which have been used on nine occasions since the trial began in December 2004.

Sydney Morning Herald 19 August: In his weekly "What they won't tell you" column FOI Editor Mathew Moore in "State declares water an underground secret" reports on a decision by the Department of Natural Resources to refuse access to parts of water licenses issued to a gold mine on the Murray River. The Department deleted large parts of the document (including the company's address) on the grounds that disclosure would have an unreasonable adverse effect on business effect or had been obtained in confidence!

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