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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Something bigger than a pothole.

A Daily Telegraph Freedom of Information application to the Roads and Traffic Authority for documents about potholes, and a subsequent investigation by the Ombudsman into interference from the then minister's office has taken another turn as reported today, with new information about steps taken to try to keep the Ombudsman at bay with big bucks paid to a top Sydney law firm. The Independent Commission Against Corruption is now investigating. The Telegraph also reports:

"Ministers will be banned from talking to their departments and staff about Freedom of Information applications under sweeping recommendations before Premier nathan Rees to stamp out political interference. The Government will also consider banning government agencies from using legal privilege to hide from investigations and keeping documents secret unless it can be proven to be justified. But Mr Rees has so far refused to implement all the recommendations, apart from submitting a draft memo to agencies reminding them that FOI applications should be made free of political interference."

Draft memo? In this report last month the paper said orders had been issued by the Premier to ministers to stay out of dealing with FOI applications. No wonder then and now there is nothing to this effect in the list of minsterial memoranda.

For a comment about political interference in FOI decision-making see this post in December 2007.

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