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Monday, March 30, 2009

Turning the switch to transparency.

You may or may not agree with Henry Ergas of Concept Economics in The Australian that the Government is on the road to disaster with half-baked populism involving long term costs. But his list of closed decision-making processes in the economic policy area is a reminder of from where we start with the new proposed object in the draft Freedom of Information Bill of promoting "Australia's representative democracy by contributing towards.....increasing public participation in Government processes with a view to promoting better-informed decision-making" :
"John Faulkner promised full disclosure. In fact, disclosure has been pitifully inadequate. Access to the modelling underpinning FuelWatch: refused. Access to the model used to evaluate the ETS: refused. Access to the cost-benefit studies underpinning the NBN: refused. Access to the Building Australia Fund's project appraisals: refused. Access to the Treasury's assessment of alternative stimulus packages: refused. This makes a mockery of democracy, whose virtue, as the historian and philosopher R.G. Collingwood argued, lies in forcing governments to operate "in the open air, and not as a post office distributing ready-made policies to a passively receptive country".

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