23.06.2016

FOI officers named in parliament over disagreement


Victorian shadow attorney-general John Pesutto has been trying to hold the government to its election promise to make freedom of information requests “quicker and easier” since last August. The public sector union wants him to leave individual FOI decision makers out of it.

Hansard records three occasions this year when Pesutto has named four specific public servants in parliament as winners of fake “FOI awards” after they made decisions he didn’t like.

It’s not unusual for politicians of the major parties to be much stronger advocates for freedom of information and government transparency through their words in opposition than their actions in government, for obvious reasons.

Nor is it uncommon to see examples of the exemptions and black-letter legal excuses to reject requests that regularly frustrate and disappoint those who request information from governments. Regardless of which party is in government, FOI officers sniff out the slightest whiff of reputational risk and err on the side of caution.

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