Rory McEwen today stands accused of trying to hide potentially critical documents by ignoring strict deadlines under Freedom of Information legislation.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, said today that, on 6 July 2007 FoI requests were sent to Minister McEwen for all documents in his Ministerial office relating to Mr McEwen and campaign donors such as AusPine, Whitehead and Van Schaik.
The FoI legislation states that an application must be dealt with:
“…as soon as practicable (and, in any case, within 30 days)…”
It is now 10 days beyond the deadline required by the Act and Mr McEwen and his office by refusing to respond to the application are guilty of breaching this law.
Documents already released by Forestry SA under FoI have caused severe embarrassment to Mr McEwen:
• Letter from Mr McEwen to Forestry SA supporting a special application for extra timber by AusPine;
• Memo showing Mr McEwen making a decision to give a $1.1 million contract to the Whitehead Group of Companies;
• Series of documents indicating the Chair and Chief Executive of Forestry SA regularly briefed Mr McEwen on issues relating to AusPine over a number of years.
“Given we now know Mr McEwen was meeting with Forestry SA on a regular basis and that issues relating to AusPine were a regular agenda item, it is clear there are important documents in Mr McEwen’s office which must be released in the interests of transparency and accountability,” Mr Lucas said.
“In particular, there would be meeting notes compiled by Ministerial Advisers to Mr McEwen (and possibly even notes by Mr McEwen) of all such meetings in relation to AusPine.
“Only when these critical documents are released will the public become more aware of the extent of Mr McEwen’s involvement in possible conflict of interest issues.
“It is also interesting to note that similar FoI requests to Mr McEwen’s Department (PIRSA) have not been answered.
“If Mr McEwen has nothing to hide, he should ensure the FoI legislation is complied with and the requested documents are released urgently.”