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Friday, October 12, 2007

FOI delivers: advice documents not exempt

Matthew Moore in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald ( "A refreshing win against an obfuscating ministry") provided a good summary of another positive decision on access to documents by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

In Dawson v Ministry of Transport (2007) NSWADT 236 the Tribunal found that a document on public transport in the Lower Hunter was not exempt despite claims by the Ministry that it was a Cabinet document and/or an internal working document. The Tribunal was not satisfied that the evidence showed that it had been prepared for submission to Cabinet, and affirmed an earlier decision that a document prepared to form the basis of a subsequent Cabinet submission is not itself a "Cabinet document". While the document contained advice, it was not, on balance contrary to the public interest to disclose the document as deliberations had been finalised and decisions made on matters addressed in the document.

Many of the arguments advanced by the Ministry about why the public interest favoured non disclosure are of a kind that still are viewed favourably in Federal and Victorian FOI cases. In NSW, in the Tribunal at least, they aren't getting very far.

1 comment:

  1. It is refreshing to learn how FOI policies differ around the world.