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Monday, April 20, 2009

Premier Rees: "the taxpayers of NSW are entitled to know what I do day-to-day "

NSW Premier Nathan Rees has moved some way since the days of his predecessor, who following in the steps of the media meister who went before him, Bob Carr, wouldn't even put media releases on the web."Leave no footprints" was the mantra of those times. The Premier now has his media releases and articles here and those of ministers here.( If you are from elsewhere, stop that snickering-these are big steps forward hereabouts.) Some selected video of the Premier answering questions in Parliament and an opportunity to "talk" to the Premier and follow him on Twitter are available through links here. The Premier's Department website now includes some reports and studies.

Freedom of Information applications have thrown a bit of light on a couple of other related matters.This report last week says the Premier thinks your right to know what he's doing even justifies special film coverage at taxpayers' expense:

SYDNEY, April 16 AAP - NSW Premier Nathan Rees has defended the cost of his personal TV camera crew after it was revealed it cost taxpayers almost $20,000 in just two months. Documents obtained by the state opposition under Freedom of Information laws show the filming has cost $18,936 at a time when families and businesses are feeling the squeeze of the global economic downturn. "While Nathan Rees is indulging his own vanity, families are struggling to make ends meet, and businesses are contemplating laying off workers because of NSW's high taxes," opposition frontbencher Chris Hartcher said on Thursday. But Mr Rees has defended the spend on the film crew, hired to record his announcements in February and March, saying the film clips are posted on his website and allow the public to see what he is up to. "It's occasional filming; I'm not followed all day every day," Mr Rees told reporters. "It's about transparency and I believe the taxpayers of NSW are entitled to know what I do day-to-day and that's what this is all about."
But the Premier doesn't seem to be getting any mileage out of the Government's very own
TV Channel
- Channel 45 on digital. Neither are the citizens. According to documents obtained through Freedom of Information by opposition frontbencher Chris Hartcher, the Government has no information on the numbers ( any?) who watch daily programming on the traffic, weather and health, and a foreign language late night movie.It's the same movie in Mandarin from April to June, so that saves money on the published program. Oh, and I left off the Lottery results. But it has cost $1million since start-up in 2003.

I know you shouldn't even try to stand between a premier and a good news story but what ever happened after Premier Rees issued an instruction in October last year to ministers to look into more pro-active disclosure of information on government agency websites? The Ombudsman in a report in February found that public servants at working level contend with ministers and CEOs who would not countenance pro-active disclosure of documents regardless of the sensibility of such a move.I won't even mention -well hardly- some examples of failure to make widely available on the web important reports tabled in Parliament.

Maybe the Premier could squeeze in a six month update?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:49 pm

    Maybe The Hon. Premier could just get moving on the revamped FOI legislation so his constituents don't have to beg and grovel to find out what's going on in the depths of government.