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Sunday, September 24, 2006

FOI in the news

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

Sunday Age 17 September: " Children taking on their parents' stresses" - Victorian children are increasingly finding it difficult to divorce themselves from the problems of family breakdown, mortgage and consumer pressures felt by parents. Documents obtained by The Sunday Age reveal that stress has emerged as one of the main concerns for primary-school-aged children.

The Sunday Herald Sun 17 September: "The secret big cat files - Government's own staff believes they exist" Documents released by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries confirms big cats are breeding in eastern Victoria. At least 34 sightings of puma or panther-like cats, along with dozens of mystery stock kills in Gippsland, in the past three years have been reported.

Sydney Morning Herald 18 September: "Drivers slugged $2.5m on two roads" Eastern suburbs drivers are falling victim to two of the fiercest speed traps in Sydney - the Cross City Tunnel and the Eastern Distributor.

The Australian 18 September:
"BHP wants public funds for new desal plant" - BHP Billiton has proposed that commonwealth water grants be used to fund a desalination plant for its planned $7 billion uranium mine expansion at Roxby Downs. The public funding plans were revealed in a joint BHP Billiton and South Australian government study, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, only a few weeks after the mining company posted Australia's largest corporate profit of $14 billion.
"Sniffing suspected in 12 remote deaths"- South Australia's Coroner is investigating the deaths of 12 Aborigines from the state's remote indigenous communities where petrol sniffing was suspected of being involved. All the deaths have occurred since May last year.

The Age 18 September:
"Former defence minister dined with key figure in AWB Iraq scandal" - Details have emerged linking former defence minister Robert Hill to one of the main figures in the AWB Iraq kickbacks scandal.
"State's ad push driven by fears of slowing economy" - The Victorian Government ordered a $4.3 million taxpayer-funded advertising campaign to convince the business sector to maintain confidence in the economy, which it privately feared was "showing signs of slowing down.

The Australian 19 September: "Tender breaches embroil minister" - Victorian Human Services Minister Bronwyn Pike is under pressure to explain why her department awarded a $22.5 million HealthSmart contract to iSoft last year despite serious probity breaches.
"Ex-special ops cop loses FOI bid" - The former head of an elite Victorian police squad has lost a battle against his ex-employer for the release of sensitive documents on management style.

The Advertiser 20 September:"Release of psychotic man 'ignored reality'" - Releasing a psychotic and aggressive man from state care "simply did not reflect the reality" of his dangerous mental state, and supression of the expert assessment of his condition "made a mockery" of Rann Government claims of transparency, according to No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon

Sydney Morning Herald 20 September: "Revealed: the toll road free-for-all" - Hundreds of drivers are using the Cross City Tunnel and the Hills M2 motorway free because the private operators have not forced a single toll evader to pay.

Sydney Morning Herald 21 September: "Pubs fume at smoking area rules" - The club and pub lobby has asked the State Government for even softer laws on smoking in the latest push to weaken the effect of the full indoor smoking ban which comes into force next July.

The Australian 22 September: "Boom in birthrate has three fathers" - A red hot economy, Peter Costello's handouts and fears of leaving it too late have combined to produce a baby boom the likes of which has not been seen in Australia for almost 35 years.

Herald Sun 22 September:"On the road to nil - Libs: freeways deal cost taxpayers $2.3b"
The Victorian State Government is sitting on hundreds of documents about the Monash Freeway deal with Transurban and congestion on the West Gate Bridge, but the Treasury has refused an Opposition request for documents.

Sydney Morning Herald 23 September: In his weekly column "What they won't tell you" FOI Editor Matthew Moore in "Who's the offender now" reports on a two year battle to obtain access to internal audit reports of the Department of Corrective Serivicess, and what has been released after intervention by the Ombudsman.

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