Freeing up Freedom Of Information?

The Brumby Government is planning to amend Freedom Of Information (FOI) laws to make it easier to get information from government agencies. The Bill will be decided on in the New Year but doesn’t have to be effective until July 2009.

It has it’s good and bad sides.

Good:
the removal of FOI application fee of $22 and charges under $11 for photo copying.
Applications will be able to be made via the internet.
Government agencies will be required to put some previously withheld information on their websites.

Bad:
the 45 day limit for a department to decide on an FOI request can be extended to 75 days in total, if they have to consult with individuals, businesses and other agencies that might not want the information released.
“Vexatious” people who are always asking for information can be deemed a nuisance and banned from applying for information.
If an agency says the document ‘doesn’t exist’ or ‘can’t be located’, the decision can’t be appealed under VCAT. That’s a massive loophole that will see a lot of traffic!

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