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Monday, October 02, 2006

NSW access neither online or offline

In this article "Iemma's state of the artless online" in today's Sydney Morning Herald, State Political Reporter Anne Davies tells us that a written request to the Premier in May for copies of media releases issued in the last 12 months, received this response in July from the then head of the Cabinet Office, Roger Wilkins:
"The Premier's media releases are provided to media outlets and as such I am unfortunately unable to fulfil your request on this occasion".
We commented in one of the first posts on this blog in February that the NSW Premier must be one of the last political leaders to show an interest in the web. He doesn't have a website that provides access to public statements, speeches and media releases. What a contrast with the Prime Minister whose every public utterance is faithfully recorded here.

Spin doctors are sold on the need for "control," so the idea of recording what political leaders say for all to see runs counter to those instincts.

Davies broader point was that the NSW Government generally is a laggard in terms of proactive disclosure of information to meet public needs, and in opening up ways to transact on the web.

Elsewhere proactive disclosure is a requirement in countries like the UK, the US and Canada when risks to public health are involved. The UK FOI scheme requires proactive publication of documents in the public interest and the Office of the Information Commissioner has just announced a new initiative to review and enhance this disclosure regime. Press release

In Canada all Federal agencies are required to publish on the net information about travel and hospitality expenses, contracts over $C10,000, position reclassifications, and grants.

Australian FOI laws have very limited proactive disclosure requirements. Their emphasis on "application and response" mechanisms, give FOI in this country a very horse and buggy feel.

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