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Thursday, December 04, 2008

AFR joins in on "too slow on FOI reform"

Regular readers have seen it here before and in the Sydney Morning Herald, but it's good to welcome the Fin on board.

From the editorial "Secrecy still haunts corridors of power" in yesterday's Australian Financial Review (still so tight with their on-line material that this is all they let the world see for free about the opinion they hold):
"The rhetoric of Special Minister of State John Faulkner is to boost government transparency and accountability.......What we have seen has been slow and piecemeal, and not necessarily accompanied by attempts to challenge the culture of secrecy that permeates government and its agencies.Some progress appears to be emerging. But the political will on such issues tends to wane rapidly...Last week the government introduced legislation that will scrap..conclusive certificates... Broader reforms have been delayed which is concerning.... There is much work to do. Creating a pro-disclosure culture will require unequivocal messages from ministers about the importance of a receptive approach to FOI requests.An independent statutory officer..which the government has mooted would assist in championing greater public disclosure...The plethora of secrecy laws in hundreds of statutes should be simplified and many abolished.But the delays in meaningful reform are a worrying sign."
The Fin editorial came after comments along the same lines last Saturday by Matthew Moore in the Herald:
"The fact that the Government is doing anything in this vexed area is welcome; the shame is the timetable for more substantial reform has slipped into next year at the earliest....The lack of urgency means departments are behaving just as they were under the previous government......The Rudd Government insists it is committed to "a pro-disclosure culture within the public sector" but, on the evidence so far, the task is all ahead of them."

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