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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wisdom of experience from former Victorian Premier

John Cain was Premier of Victoria when the Freedom of Information Act was introduced in 1983. In the Herald Sun today he reflects on some of the lessons learnt through experience since, and offers some advice to those currently at the helm of the state Labor Government. Forget about the ludicrous plan to provide for up to 75 days to respond to applications, speed up the process and tighten up on business claims regarding"commercial in confidence."

The following observations are relevant to government leaders throughout the country:
"What is needed, 26 years after my government introduced the FOI law, is to have it truly respected by politicians and public servants......The real problem here is public service culture. In some parts it still rejects the notion of FOI. The secrecy and "we know best" syndrome that is cherished in the public sector is alive and well. In these times of the internet, a more enquiring and better educated community, it just does not wash. People want to know things - and so they should...In 1982-3 we sought to "educate" public servants to "live with" FOI. This should be done again.. Community acceptance of public policy is enhanced by full disclosure. If FOI worked properly, it would create a climate where the need for a Crime Commission was diminished. "
Has any Victorian Government leader said a word on the subject since the FOI Amendment Bill failed to pass the upper house earlier in the year?

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