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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

FOI Treasury documents spark public debate

Channel Seven - with Michael McKinnon as FOI Editor - scored quite a hit with a Freedom of Information request for access to Treasury documents concerning housing affordability. According to Peter Martin, Economics Editor of the Canberra Times the release of documents was "unprecedented". His blog provides a link to the text of the 180 documents released and some useful commentary as well. The notice of determination says of the 81 documents within the scope of the request 23 were exempt in whole or in part, apparently on internal working documents grounds.

The release of documents resulted in widespread media coverage and touched off a debate about housing issues.

Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry quoted in The Australian said reporting on the content of the documents had misrepresented their content. He was "outraged" that a reference in the documents to concern about affordability was interpreted to mean that Treasury was indicating an interest rate increase before the election.

Treasurer Costello seemed pretty quick to emphasise that the documents revealed that the biggest affordability problems arose from state government attachment to stamp duty, and their failure to release sufficient land to keep up with demand.

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