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Monday, November 12, 2007

$50,000 to find out how taxpayers money spent

The Canberra Times has a couple of interesting articles about the production of 'Cheat sheets' that provide an electorate by electorate picture of government spending. The documents were prepared by the public service before the election was called but are now being used for a variety of political purposes during the course of the campaign. They are available, courtesy of the minister, to government backbenchers running for re-election and no doubt pretty handy for those involved.

But a request to obtain them under Freedom of Information, surprise surprise, has been met by a request by four departments for $50,000. This is simply the public service applying the rules, according to Joe Hockey Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations:
"ministers are entirely removed from the Freedom of Information process and are not responsible for departments' decisions".
In this editorial the Canberra Times acknowledges that those involved in the work associated with the production of this type of material may not have broken any law, but on the eve of an election, no one should have been in any doubt that it would be used for political purposes. They are apparently being used, with other information, in targeted direct mail designed to bring to selected voters spending initiatives that could be of particular interests to them.

Cost and other barriers will mean that the 'cheat sheets' aren't publicly available or even available to non government candidates, until after the election.

The public right to know...... losers again!

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