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Monday, August 16, 2010

Election briefs for government MPs/candidates none of anyone else's business

 Markus Mannheim in the Canberra Times today:
"The Federal Government has used the public service to prepare secret reports on every Australian electorate, in breach of its own policy. Eight government departments have confirmed they wrote the reports - detailed analyses of all spending in each MP's seat - but refuse to make them public. Labor said before it won office in 2007 that similar reports produced for the Coalition government showed it had misused and politicised the bureaucracy.... The party's then public accountability spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said the briefs should be available publicly or not produced at all. ''The Howard government seriously thinks taxpayers' money is their own. Australians are entitled to know how their taxes are being spent,'' she said two weeks before the 2007 election. The Canberra Times reported in 2007 that several Liberal ministers had given the briefs to their party's MPs and candidates to help them plan their election campaigns. At the time, Labor denounced the production of the documents as a ''scandalous'' abuse of public resources for political ends."
Don't worry folks, in the hard copy Times the Minister may have said from May next year, when new FOI act publishing requirements kick in, this is just the sort of thing the public service should be making available to us all:
For more on this story, including details of a response by Cabinet secretary Joe Ludwig stating that, under Labor's new freedom of information laws, departments should proactively publish information, see the print edition of today's Canberra Times.

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