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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

FOI and its contribution to good governance

Summer blog

The US has been a strong and consistent advocate for over 30 years of FOI as a key element in promoting democracy and public participation in the affairs of government around the world. Its efforts are to be applauded, despite the fact that there are plenty of critics of some aspects of US law and the way it is applied at home.

This speech last week by William Ferroggiaro, a Washington based writer and consultant to a webchat for developing countries organised by USINFO (the Government's international information arm), highlighted the benefits of FOI and its role in good governance.

Australia also spends large amounts of money in its government aid program administered by AUSAID in promoting governance reform, particularly in the Pacific and South East Asia. It's a task for another day to explore what message we actually put out there regarding FOI and what resources Australia devotes to encouraging positive take up amongst our neighbours.

The Federal Government's standing and credibility on access to information suffered this year, particularly in the light of its long drawn out and expensive efforts to head off access to 4 year old documents at the centre of a High Court challenge by Michael McKinnon of The Australian.

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