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Monday, March 13, 2006

FOI in the news

The front page story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald about conditions in some child care centres is based on documents released under the FOI Act, as was Saturday’s report about the overseas travel of the Minister for Gaming and Racing.

The West Australian on 9 March reported that FOI documents revealed that 15,000 were on the waiting list for elective surgery in public hospitals in Perth, the first official waiting list figures released since June 2005.

Ministerial travel expenses and hospital waiting lists are two categories of documents that shouldn’t require FOI applications. This type of non exempt information should be routinely disclosed and widely disseminated on the web. Australia’s requirements for pro active disclosure are a long way behind good practice. Have a look at one Canadian provincial requirement for routine disclosure of information. There are many others in Canada, the US and the UK.

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