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Sunday, October 08, 2006

FOI in the news

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

Herald Sun October 2: "Tenix to have edge on rivals" - Speed camera company Tenix will be given an edge over bidding rivals when the government contract is retendered next year. Financial details of the current $461 million contract, known only to Tenix, will be held back.

The Australian 5 June: "Nuts to public interest when it comes to squirrelling secrets" - This piece ranges over accountability weaknesses in government and says there are times when freedom of information seems to apply only when it suits mandarins and ministers.

The Age October 5: "Medical errors led to 29 deaths, hospitals say - Many mistakes still unreported" - A patient given the wrong dose of a sedative was among 29 people who died because of errors in hospitals that were reported to authorities last financial year.

Herald Sun October 5: "Brumby rejects surplus claim" - Victoria's true surplus is almost $4 billion, the state's chief financial watchdog says, contradicting Treasurer John Brumby's earlier declaration of an $850 million surplus.

The Age October 6: "Apology over FoI request - Countdown to the poll" - The Victorian Ombudsman has ordered one of Premier Steve Bracks' departments to apologise to a senior Liberal MP for obstructing a freedom-of-information request by claiming it did not have the documents he was after.

The Courier-Mail October 6: "Millions 'lost' - Budget blowouts on public works projects in southeast Queensland have become so common, politicians brag when one is completed on time and on budget. Information about cost blow outs is limited as documents concerning projects have often been refused under FOI and the Queensland Auditor General does not have powers to conduct performance audits.

Sydney Morning Herald 7 October:
"Now it's our part-time police force - Thin Blue Line" - Nearly 2000 NSW police officers have second jobs, using their spare time to work as international couriers, teachers and even masseurs. But despite the widespread moonlighting, a Herald investigation has also revealed a culture of police hoarding their holidays, with a blow-out in unused leave of nearly 4 million hours - worth nearly $123 million - left on the books last year alone.

"Educator denies standards are sliding" - This report about national literacy and numeracy standards says the Federal Department of Education refused a request for access to current data on the basis that it did not exist - the most recent figures are more than 2 years old.

In his weekly column "What they wont tell you" FOI Editor Matthew Moore writes in "Canadians do it better" about recent comments by the Canadian Information Commissioner on essentials for making FOI work.

See our blog on the same subject.

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