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Sunday, September 03, 2006

FOI in the news

Media reports based on FOI applications this week include:

The Adelaide Advertiser 27 August: “MPS' cars have been caught by speed and red light cameras - but all the details remain a state secret". The Advertiser reports that it was knocked back in its attempts to obtain information about traffic violation tickets issued to MPs, but the letter from the relevant department simply stated that the department did not hold the details.

Newspapers in Melbourne and Sydney both obtained details of mobile phone expenditure by local councillors:
Sunday Age August 27: Hang-up call on mobile-crazy councillors” - Councillors across Melbourne are spending up to $10,000 a year of council money on their mobile phones, but the State Government is resisting calls for a probe.
The Daily Telegraph August 28:“Councillors' big mobile costs” – NSW local councillors on mobile phones are running up bills for their ratepayers of up to $1100 a month.

The Australian August 28: “Greens bar preferences for Labor” - documents that reveal clearing of vegetation could have an influence on preferences in next week's Queensland State election.

The Age August 28: “Medical precinct's bridge centrepiece - Push to link public and private hospitals in east” - A major medical precinct for Melbourne's fast-growing eastern suburbs, costing about $700 million, would include a bridge linking Box Hill Hospital with Epworth's private facility.

Daily Telegraph August 29: “End to school violence - New laws allow troublemakers to be kicked out - The Iemma Government will legislate to give itself the power to remove violent students from school when they put the safety of other children or teachers at risk.

Australian Financial Review 29 August :” Lennon defends former deputy” - New allegations of inappropriate ministerial conduct by former deputy premier Bryan Green are being investigated by Tasmania’s auditor-general.

Herald Sun August 31: “FUEL FARCE - We pay so MPs get free petrol but their bills stay a secret” – Victorian MPs and their families have pumped more than $500,000 of free petrol into their taxpayer-funded cars -- but their bills are being kept secret. The Bracks Government is hiding behind privacy laws, claiming it is not allowed to reveal individual MPs' bills.

(Last week we commented that authorities in Sydney and Brisbane seemed confused about the relationship between FOI laws and privacy legislation. Now this has extended to Victoria. In all three jurisdictions FOI laws are not affected by privacy legislation. "BOTPA" - because of the privacy act - strikes again).

Sydney Morning Herald September 2: In his weekly column “What they won't tell you" FOI Editor Matthew Moore in "Its their ABC" - reports on a Federal Court decision on the interpretation of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's exemption from FOI "in relation to broadcasting functions". The Court ruled that this extended to all documents that had a direct or indirect connection with broadcasting, including complaints about bias in ABC coverage of events in the middle east in 2000-2002. For our earlier comment on this development see here.

As usual some free links are not available.

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