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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nothing to show for four months of thinking about FOI reform

The Rudd Government was sworn into office 4 months ago today. Frenetic is the best word to describe the work rate of the Prime Minister and his team during this period.

But Freedom of Information is one of the few areas where we are still to see any public indication of the Government's progress on plans for reform. Remember this - "I'll end secrecy", Mr. Rudd told the National Press Club 3 days before the election last November.

Here are a couple of indications that nothing much has changed. Michael McKinnon, FOI Editor Channel 7, on ABC Radio 702 yesterday said that bureaucrats continue to use flawed old arguments to reject FOI requests; and in an article in Crikey yesterday Ian Ward of the University of Queensland tells how the office of his local member of Parliament (one Kevin Rudd MP), wasn't able to tell him anything about the Government's cabinet committees because the Prime Minister's Office advised information of this kind is usually not disclosed. The names of the committees and the ministers who sit on each - they have to be kidding!

The Minister responsible, Senator Faulkner, has said nothing publicly on this issue.

Culture change and law reform in this area were said to be high priorities before the election last year. Four months on, the public record hardly inspires confidence in these undertakings.

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