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Sunday, May 18, 2008

NSW Premier not commited to FOI reform

The following Q and A in the NSW Parliament last Thursday, saw the Premier play straight bat when asked for a commitment to act on the recommendations to come from the Ombudsman's review:
Ms CLOVER MOORE: I direct my question to the Premier. Given that the New South Wales Freedom of Information Act is based on principles developed more than 30 years ago and that it has been the subject of more than 60 amendments, and given the poor rate of freedom of information releases in New South Wales, will the New South Wales Government commit to implementing the Ombudsman's recommendations following his review of the Act?

Mr MORRIS IEMMA: As the member quite correctly states, the Ombudsman has commenced a review. The Government welcomes that review and will provide whatever assistance and cooperation he requires in that process. The member also made the point that the legislation has been around for a long time. I add that the Freedom of Information Act is one means by which information is released to the public. The member might recall that in previous years the bulk of freedom of information requests related to health records. They are now made available to the public outside the freedom of information process.
I understand the member had a role in the release of contract and tender information. It is also now released outside the freedom of information process. The information that is released now contains much more detail than would have been possible under the old freedom of information process. The Government welcomes the Ombudsman's review. It will support it and cooperate with the Ombudsman. It will also give very serious consideration to his recommendations when the report is completed.
As Matthew Moore commented in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, the dismissive (or lack of) government response to recent recommendations in Ombudsman reports on FOI complaints do not encourage optimism that the Government is at the ready to act on what comes out of the review.

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