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Friday, April 03, 2009

From potholes to a big hole.

That NSW Ombudsman report sounds more fascinating by the day, with this from Simon Benson in today's Daily Telegraph that the report includes information that the RTA engaged a company connected with its former minister and former chief executive to deal with some of the ensuing mess that arose concerning the investigation of the handling of a Freedom of Information application for documents about..... potholes. Benson's opinion piece about how bungling and sneakiness turned a mole-hill into a mountain, and the editorial in stablemate The Australian, concluding "a tinpot government that is furtive about potholes has much to hide"-would take paint off the wall in many government headquarters. In NSW??

The Report was tabled in Parliament yesterday. There was also this exchange in the Legislative Assembly, among others
"Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: My question without notice is directed to the Premier. Given the Premier's promise to end the days of the secret State and to be honest, transparent and accountable, why will the Premier not release the Ombudsman's report into the handling of freedom of information requests by the Roads and Traffic Authority and the former Minister for Roads?

Mr NATHAN REES: I am advised that the Ombudsman's report will be tabled this afternoon in the other place. I can advise that in line with the Ombudsman's recommendations, the Roads and Traffic Authority provided the report to the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I can also advise that we welcome the Ombudsman's recent report on the Freedom of Information Act. I have said that Act needs overhauling and we have considered the Ombudsman's proposal for a new Act. As I have said on many occasions, it is the Government's intention to completely overhaul the Freedom of Information Act, which is more than 20 years old and does not reflect the electronic age.The Ombudsman's report provides a road map for fundamental reform of freedom of information in this State. It is currently under active consideration by my Government."
But if you want to read the Report, at present the only option is to toddle down to Parliament House in Macquarie St during business hours and ask to see a copy.The Telegraph-the complainant- has a copy provided by the Ombudsman as is routine practice, but hasn't so far posted it on the web. So has the RTA, but no sign of it there either. The Ombudsman can't publish a report sent to a minister even when the minister tables it-his act only permits publication of a report sent directly to the Parliament. Parliament doesn't do anything even 20th century like automatically putting on the web important tabled documents of wide public interest. And so far nothing on the websites of the Premier or his department.

Last October the Premier raised hopes things would be very different by now.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:16 pm

    C'mon "The Tele", scan the document and get it online.

    The SMH, the 7 network and ABC's "Media Watch" frequently publish their Freedom of Information requests and responses online.

    Let's get this information out in the (readily accessible) public domain.

    As for Mr Rees: so many promises, but so little action.

    What does "under active consideration" actually mean? Just get it done already.

    You had better deliver by the next election. I shall be watching you like a hawk.