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Sunday, October 15, 2006

FOI in the news

Some media reports based on FOI applications over the last week include:

Sunday Telegraph 8 October: "The water wasters - Wealthy Woollahra the worst offender" - Almost five people a day are being fined for breaching water restrictions, with the residents of Woollahra the worst offenders. Documents obtained from Sydney Water show that three years after mandatory restrictions came into force, residents are continuing to use sprinklers, water their lawns and hose their driveways.Figures obtained under Freedom Of Information show random patrols caught almost 2000 residents breaching the restrictions, despite the prospect of a $220 fine.

The Age 9 October: "What US says about Hicks is OK by Canberra" - The Howard Government relied on speaking notes provided by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office to deny claims that David Hicks was moved into solitary confinement seven months ago.And it did not send an Australian official to check his condition for three months.Hicks, 31, was moved into what his lawyers describe as solitary confinement and what the Australian and US governments call a single-occupancy cell in March, a day after an Australian official visited him at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Herald Sun 9 October: "Council pair in lap of luxury" - The Mayor of Wodonga and her chief executive officer have spent almost a quarter of a million dollars on overseas trips, dining, entertainment and conferences over three years.

Herald Sun 10 October: "Ocean views to woo TAC" - A new $90 million building with ocean views is the latest incentive to woo TAC workers to Geelong. Victorian Premier Steve Bracks yesterday revealed the site for the controversial relocation of the Transport Accident Commission -- just 200m from the picturesque Corio Bay.

Herald Sun 10 October: "Drivers face pay or pray" - Commuters using crime-riddled station car parks would have to pay if they wanted security for their cars, under a plan considered by the Victoiran Government. The ``pay or pray'' scheme for station parkers would split station parks into patrolled areas for those who can pay and free parks with no security for battlers.

Herald Sun 10 October:"Dark side of politics" - One of the consequences of politics in the modern media age has been the increasing irrelevance of the Victorian state Parliament, both as a forum for debate and an institution of scrutiny. During the past four years, Labor's overwhelming majority has made the task of scrutiny even tougher.

The Sydney Morning Herald 11 October: "US inquiry into jail abuse a cover-up :Hicks lawyer" - A US Defence Department investigation that found David Hicks suffered no abuse while in US custody was the "biggest cover-up of all time", his US military lawyer says. Major Michael Mori, who has represented Mr Hicks since 2003, said last year's Navy Criminal Investigative Service investigation was a whitewash, and that his own "minimal investigations" had confirmed his client had been physically abused.

The Daily Telegraph 11 October: "Cash lost at sea - Taxpayers have paid almost $4000 a day to rent replacement vessels for Sydney Ferries over the past year. As ferries sank and crashed into wharves and engines failed to start, the state had to fork out $1.43 million.

The Australian 11 October: "Territory chief slow to act on abuse" - Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin knew about young girls being "prostituted for petrol'' in central Australia 18 months before she ordered an inquiry into violence and child abuse in remote Aboriginal communities.

The Canberra Times 14 October: "When hospitals kill" - Twice this month a coroner has blamed lapses in medical care for the deaths of patients in Canberra's biggest public hospital and the ACT region's major trauma centre. Two other deaths at Canberra Hospital are the subject of continuing legal actions.

The Sydney Morning Herald October 14: n his weekly column "What they wont tell you" FOI comments on a recent speech by the NSW Crown Solicitor that is critical of the NSW Parliament and the media for seeking and publishing government information.

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