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Monday, October 15, 2012

Victoria, an FOI problem child that won't step up

More for my "Victoria disappointment" file.

See Fiona Hudson in The Sunday Herald Sun on "Why FOI has become hoarding of information for the Victorian Government" and "20 things Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu doesn't want you to know". 

There are some gems here. While a sentence plucked from a statement of reasons won't tell the full story, these shorthand refusal reasons are particularly inventive:

2 What we asked for: Details of all artworks displayed at or owned by the new Royal Children's Hospital.
The response: Refused. "Disclosure may ... give rise to the misleading impression that the RCH spent significant amounts of money to acquire artworks at a particular cost when that is not accurate."

15 What we asked for: Results from the Annual Secondary Teacher Workload Study for 2009 and 2010.
The response: Refused. "The report is an essential part of a process which enables the Department to make policy decisions. It would be contrary to the public interest to release the report as this would undermine the integrity and viability of this process."

16 What we asked for: Performance reports from private prison operators.
The response: Refused. "The private prison providers are international organisations and the discussions in the reports may expose them to disadvantage in the domestic and international marketplace."

18 What we asked for: List of Melbourne Grand Prix guests invited by Premier at taxpayers' expense.
The response: Refused. Reasons included "many of the people identified in the lists are well known to the public".

The FOI commissioner designate-if there is one- will have hands full come 1 December but the problem (the out of date FOI law, the culture) is bigger and tougher than even a highly capable, fully resourced person in that job is likely to be able to resolve.

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