After a 16 month battle the State Ombudsman has directed the Rann Government to release documents relating to Labor’s fundraising vehicle SA Progressive Business (SAPB), Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said today.
“The original FOI application was actually lodged in October 2009, five months before the state election,” Mr Lucas said.
“However, it wasn’t until after the election in June 2010 that the Rann Government released some documents consistent with a previous decision of the Ombudsman.
“However, the Rann Government refused access to seven documents either totally or partially. Grounds for refusal included breach of confidence, commercial confidentiality, beyond the scope of the Ombudsman’s review and not being in the public interest.
“The documents include correspondence between Mr Rann and a prominent SA business, emails between Mr Rann’s spin doctors and a journalist, and speech notes for Mr Rann.
“The Ombudsman dismissed virtually all of the submissions from the Rann Government and the Labor Party and has ordered the release of all documents.
“More than four weeks after the Ombudsman’s decision on 14 February 2011, the Rann Government still hasn’t released the documents.
“This is the latest in a number of embarrassing reversals of Rann Government attempts to prevent the release of documents relating to their dealings with SAPB.
“In February last year, again after a 16 month battle, the Ombudsman forced the Rann Government to release details of who attended various SAPB functions and the seating arrangements at those dinners. One of the documents the Rann Government fought so hard to keep secret showed Minister John Hill seated next to the person who became the key representative for the successful consortium bidding for the $1.8b RAH project.
“The increasing number of decisions by the Ombudsman reversing Rann Government FOI decisions is an illustration of the increasingly secretive approach of the Rann Government to the whole FOI process. However due to lack of resources the only problem with relying on the Ombudsman is that it can take up to 18 months to get a final decision and the Rann Government is happy to see the delays.
“Only Mr. Rann and his Ministers can explain why they are so desperate to prevent the release of documents detailing the connection between his Government and Labor’s fundraising vehicle SAPB.”