Posted on 18. Apr, 2012 in News

An Auditor General’s report has found that the release of information to Victorians under Freedom of Information (FOI) is being significantly delayed by the Premier’s Private Office and the Premier’s department.

The report shows that a sample of FOIs sent to DPC had been stuck in the Premier’s Private Office for up to 68 days, with the average delay being greater than 40 days. Under the FOI Act, documents should only be held by a Minister’s office for a five day “noting” period.

In three cases, requests sat in the Premier’s office longer than it took for the Department of Premier and Cabinet to make the initial decision.

The delays caused by the Premier’s office were in addition to delays of up to 217 days caused by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The report also outlines that one FOI request from the media took more than four months and involved multiple attempts by the Premier’s office to ‘query’ the independent decision, including selecting legal counsel to review it. This interference delayed access to information by almost three months.

“This Government promised to be open and transparent, but the only thing transparent about the Premier is his determination to shut down the release of information through FOI,” Mr Pakula said.

“And this Auditor General’s report reveals that, rather than being the solution on FOI, this Premier and his office are the problem.”

Mr Pakula said that the claim by the Government that it would improve matters through its FOI Commissioner was “a fantasy.”

“The Government has deliberately designed the commissioner to be a toothless tiger who can’t review decisions made by Ministerial offices, can’t review cabinet in confidence claims, can’t set enforceable standards, and who will be horribly under resourced,” he said.



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