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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Same old, same old in South Australia

In preparation for an interview this morning with Radio Adelaide about the Hawke Freedom of Information review, and anticipating a couple of questions that didn't eventuate about South Australia, I had a quick look for an update on the local scene, and found-not much at all. 

SA stood to one side, along with the west, from the FOI reform movement of 2007-2010 that saw significant change at the national level and in Queensland, NSW and Tasmania. The SA FOI act of 1991 remains as it has always been since commencement 21 years ago and way short of a modern information access law that reflects 21st century expectations and norms.

In a recent reshuffle Premier Jay Weatherill assumed responsibility for the Public Sector and has announced political donation reform but is yet to mention transparency or open government as far as I can see. Tom Kenyon who had the job among others a year ago didn't seem well disposed to FOI but said something at the time about more pro-active publication. That may have been it.

The Ombudsman continues to haul some agencies back to toe the line when asked.

But it's the same old, same old in SA - an out of date law, limited publication requirements, the exclusions include parliament, no online publication of parliamentarians entitlements, no legislated requirement for publication of contracts (note in passing: no disclosure of payments to Lance Armstrong), no transparency regarding grants to industry, lobbying rules limited to registration for some but that's it, lack of leadership on openness and transparency, closed government culture, delay, high cost, limited resources, etc, etc. 

SA alone has an accredited FOI decision maker system, but I've not seen any evaluation of how that has worked.

With a year to go to the next state election, perhaps time for some pressure on the major parties to join The Greens Mark Parnell and Family First Robert Brokenshire in at least talking about transparency and open government?

If only Radio Adelaide had asked....

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