The Feds, Victoria, Queensland and NSW all received a mention in dispatches about Freedom of Information reform over the weekend.
Sean Parnell in The Australian:
"In reality, the Prime Minister is no different to his predecessor on this important accountability and transparency ( Freedom of Information) legislation. Why else would Rudd let other jurisdictions, such as Queensland, go it alone on FOI reform? Why else would he allow obstinate states such as NSW to continue debating the issue? Why else would we still be waiting for him to reveal his hand? Don't be fooled into thinking FOI reform should be delayed, or limited, because the Government is dealing with weightier issues. Recent cases, and this week's FOI annual report, show the Rudd Government is becoming an insular society, a bureaucratic closed shop. Last year, The Australian applied for documents relating to Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations. The response is now six months overdue, unlikely to be finalised in time for next week's anniversary."And a converation about FOI reform in Australia between Peter Mares and Matthew Moore of the Sydney Morning Herald on Radio National's The National Interest, with this lead-in:
"If you're a journalist keen to shed light on Melbourne's public transport woes, you'll want to be very young. Victoria's state transport minister, Lyn Kosky, has decided to lock away documents relating to the construction of the $700 million Southern Cross Station for 50 years. That's two decades longer than the general blackout that applies to cabinet papers. By the 2050s, the station will be the tiniest of footnotes in the State's history. It's an extreme example of the ingrained reluctance of Australian governments - whether state or federal - to submit their decisions and actions to public scrutiny. Before the last election, Labor accused the Howard government of cultivating a 'code of silence' and promised a thorough overhaul of Freedom of Information laws - with a view to fostering open government. How well has Kevin Rudd done on that front since becoming PM?"
The answer?- not too flash. We live in hope and know that patience is a virtue but....
Moore in his weekly column suggests NSW Premier Rees, now with a reform package on his desk would be better to follow President Obama's approach to change than our own Federal Government's ponderous approach.