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Monday, January 14, 2008

FOI in the news

Regular readers will know that we don't usually highlight every media report based on documents released in response to a freedom of information application. One of the reasons is there are just too many reports of this kind.

A look at the papers over the last few days for example, is a reminder that a lot of information finds its way into the public domain through the use of freedom of information laws. What these reports don't tell us is whether what was sought was provided promptly and at reasonable cost. Here are some just from the week end:

"Critical delays for ambulance patients" - Daily Telegraph (The Department of Health says there is only a short waiting time when the number of patients is averaged out).

"Hundreds expelled from Victorian state schools" - Herald Sun.

"Addiction to drugs rife in jails" - The Age.

"State Government slammed after expensive move" - Herald Sun.

"More than a third of its fleet cops traffic fines" - Herald Sun.

"Doors fly open on trams" - The Advertiser.

"Boom in baby bonus for rich" - Weekend Australian.

Those who claim that FOI is a 'joke' or that the media doesn't utilise FOI are clearly off the mark. As often noted here, FOI works to a degree but responses are patchy - much could be done to improve, particularly in the Federal sphere (is Senator Faulkner beavering away in the background?).

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