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Monday, November 12, 2007

Access to information and accountability issues still running

If you are interested in keeping up with news and commentary arising from the Independent Audit Report on Freedom of Speech, a regular 'Google News' search or this site will give you most of the published articles.

In "Grand Viziers of the message" Jack Waterford in the Canberra Times commented that based on Kevin Rudd's Queensland experience, little change in the tight, highly controlled media management practices of the Federal Government are likely in the event of Labor success in the election. "Rudd, in short, will be giving us more of the same if with a slightly different flavour. The obsession about controlling information as well as the fantasy that by doing so one can control events, is a bipartisan problem getting steadily worse".

The "Great legal debate" between Attorney General Philip Ruddock and Shadow Attorney General, Senator Ludwig, included a commitment by the Attorney General to look at the report: "I have the utmost respect for Irene Moss. She is a personal friend who I know does a professional job". Senator Ludwig said Labor would act on Freedom of Information reform in its first term if elected. Richard Ackland's summary "Two arthritic wombats having a head butt" included this comment: "(I)t's not just the media which are being choked. The culture of concealment, as Ludwig called it, has constricted the air pipes of democratic accountability and allowed a lot of behind-the-scenes official nastiness".

Today former Prime Ministers Whitlam and Fraser lend their voices to calls for increased accountability and reform, noting that Freedom of Information laws have been undermined by conservative interpretation and application within government and by the courts and tribunals.

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