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Friday, August 10, 2007

Not enough light on safety issues and government reports

This report in The Australian that Chinese-made tyres recalled in the US after a double fatality, are still being sold in Australia, didn't refer to a related access to government information issue.

Public Citizen has the details: a 2000 Act requiring the creation of an early warning database that would alert consumers of potential defects in automobiles has not resulted in information being made available to members of the public. In fact until July 2006 the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finally lost a two year Freedom of Information battle to keep this information secret, when a court ordered information in the database to be released in response to a Freedom of Information application.

In Australia we also don't see routine publication of information of this kind concerning public health and safety issues. It's another area that shouldn't require Freedom of Information processes.

Matthew Moore in his column this week in the SMH raised a similar issue concerning access to other government held information, in this case reports about animal welfare and the live sheep export trade, only released after a long and expensive FOI battle.

More contenders for the "sunshine solution".

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