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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Business-as usual- in Western Australia.

Six months in office, the Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett on Tuesday in a statement to Parliament outlined the Government's plans for the year ahead. It's a full agenda of issues and challenges. While "Government Accountability" made it into the headline there is nothing much in the speech on the subject although full marks for establishing the Public Service Commission"to restore and reinforce the professionalism and independence of the public service."

That was it really-no mention of Freedom of Information reform or privacy legislation, with bills last debated in 2007 no longer on the table.It's a far cry from September last year when the Government acknowledged the need to do better on transparency and accountability including
"to revive privacy legislation which has languished in the parliament, to scrap Labor's proposal to replace the merits review powers of the FOI Commissioner with the State Administrative Tribunal and to "review the manner in which Departments are administering the FOI process to ensure that Government is accountable and open in accordance with the spirit of the FOI Act."
This progress report in December after 100 days didn't make any reference to these commitments but gave an update on the Commissioner's position :
"Restore an independent Freedom of information Commissioner- Issue has been before Cabinet. The position has been advertised (closed 18 December) and an appointment will be made in the new year,"
In March 2009 John Lightowler remains Acting Information Commissioner. There hasn't been a permanent appointment since 2004.

The West Australian's interest in these issues has been hard to spot, even under new management- here is what a search on their site for "Freedom of Information" throws up- and Keryn McKinnon's blog is still stuck at July 2008.

C'arn the Sandgropers, keep 'em honest over there.

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