The Rann Government was ‘tightening the screws’ even tighter on releasing documents under Freedom of Information (FoI) at a time when most other governments were ‘freeing up’ FoI laws.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, said today the arrogance of the Rann Government was demonstrated by the fact that Minister Karlene Maywald’s office had refused to provide for three months now a one page list of staff employed in her office!
“In fact, Minister Maywald’s office has refused to respond to 12 separate FoI applications over the last 11 months concerning issues such as spending by Ms Maywald on entertainment, travel expenses and dinners, and Future ICT,” Mr Lucas said.
In another recent example, Mr Rann’s own Department of Premier and Cabinet claimed it needed eight months to respond to an application. The application related to a grant of $132,000 out of the Premier’s personally controlled “slush fund” to the Port Adelaide Football Club. This fund attracted controversy earlier this year when it was revealed Mr Rann had given $473,000 to a church within his own electorate.
“Having lodged approximately 1,000 FoI applications in the last six years, it is clear that the situation has become much worse in the past two. Documents which were previously being released (e.g. Treasury analysis of Access Economics Reports) under FoI were now being refused on the grounds they were “Cabinet documents.”
“The Rann Government’s attitude is best shown by Minister Maywald’s FoI Officer who told my staff that answering Opposition FoI applications was “not a high priority” for Minister Maywald’s office!
“Whilst the message of the national media campaign – Right to Know – has been heard by the new Commonwealth Labor Government and Labor Governments in Queensland and Victoria, it is clear Mr Rann is just not listening.
“Mr Rann’s sorry record on FoI follows revelations of his refusal to answer hundreds of questions on notice in the Parliament.
“Contrary to Mr Rann’s election promise to lead an open and accountable Government, we now have the most secretive Government in South Australia’s history.”
For reference: Labor’s Plan for Honesty in Government (2002)
“We will lift standards of honesty, accountability and transparency in Government.”
“Secrecy can provide the cover behind which waste, wrong priorities, dishonesty and serious abuse of public office may occur.”
“A good Government does not fear scrutiny or openness.”