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Thursday, August 27, 2009

WA Premier says charge changes needed to curb Opposition FOI appetite

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett cried foul in The Australian today about Opposition use of the Freedom of information Act for "frivolous and wasteful" fishing expeditions and threatened changes to the charging regime in response. But this line:
"Mr Barnett said the state's FOI system was something for new special counsel to the state government, former director of public prosecutions Robert Cock QC, to consider."
may represent a narrow view of what's needed, given the fact that the West, along with Victoria and South Australia seems entirely unmoved to date on the need for fundamental re-examination of access to government information laws to meet contemporary expectations . Special counsel?

Charges in WA are generally in line with elsewhere (for non-personal requests $30 application fee and $30 per hour for processing but no charge for time spent to locate relevant documents) and no other jurisdictions are talking about an increase. NSW recently enacted the 1989 rates in the new Government Information (Public Access) Act making it that much harder for changes.Here is a reminder of the pre and post election statements about FOI in the West. Sven Bluemmel was appointed Information Commissioner in May.

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