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Monday, September 29, 2008

"Personal information" but what about the public interest?

And the report below from yesterday's Sun Herald may be in line with many previous NSW Government decisions about the non- disclosure of details of termination payments, but it suggests no shift along the openness and accountability spectrum, or much weighing of the public interest in disclosure, one factor relevant to the proper application of the personal affairs exemption in the Freedom of Information Act. These guys were in their jobs for a couple of months at best. Compenation fpr termination was warranted but why the secrecy about the payments?:
"John Choueifate, who was supposed to save former premier Morris Iemma, boasted that his taxpayer-funded income was no one's business. New Premier Nathan Rees sacked Choueifate and his trusty sidekick Adam Walters but he agrees with Choueifate that his income, and that of Walters, should not be made public. An Opposition freedom of information request, which sought the men's salaries, has been knocked back. In a letter dated September 8 - just after Rees won the top job - the deputy director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet Leigh Sanderson decreed the information was off limits because it was "personal". The knock-back has angered Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell, who said: "If Nathan Rees was committed to open and transparent government, he would have released this information." It's been speculated Choueifate, a former Channel Nine news director, and Walters, the station's former state political reporter, were paid up to $250,000 and $200,000 respectively. A Premier's spokesman refused to detail their salaries but said their special media unit, now scrapped, had an annual budget of $600,000. He said Rees had instructed the money now be used to fund 10 new workers to assist the homeless."
Update: from this Opposition release the application was for the employment contracts.All of my comments still strand.

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