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Friday, March 13, 2015

New low point for FOI as public service boss labels access rights law "pernicious."

Pernicious-"having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way: damaging, detrimental, deleterious.
Very pernicious- extremely harmful, damaging, detrimental etc.

 Illustrating the lack of support at senior echelons of the public service for transparency and accountability Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd commented in talking to public servants at an event on Wednesday.:
One audience member suggested to Mr Lloyd that public servants were probably risk averse because of the penalties if they made an error of judgment. Mr Lloyd said this could be because of a large number of watchdogs and "very pernicious" freedom of information laws."[FOI laws] have gone a bit further than what they were intended to," Mr Lloyd said.
That audience member was right of course.

The Commissioner wasn't.

As former attorney general Senator Joe Ludwig said:
"It's unbelievable that the head of the Commonwealth public service would call the FOI laws 'pernicious' – he either has no understanding of the importance of FOI laws in a modern and transparent democracy or he is trying to undermine the legislation with his comments," Senator Ludwig said. "FOI laws simply provide a window into the decisions and process of government. If the Public Service Commissioner has confidence in the professionalism and integrity of public service staff, then he has nothing to fear from FOI laws."

He said the Abbott government had a track record of secrecy since it came to power.
This low point takes its place alongside the plan to abolish the Office of Australian Information Commissioner still in a bill before the Senate that Senator Brandis said reflects the Government's position. The FOI functions of the office have not been funded beyond 31 December 2014.   

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