Privacy Commission Report Reveals Baird Government's Fear of Public Scrutiny
February 28, 2016
Labor has labelled Mike Baird’s Government the secret state after new data from the Information and Privacy Commission revealed the Liberals are blocking almost one-third of information requests.
The latest report on the operation of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA) shows a sharp decline in the number of requests approved for release. It is a clear signal the Liberal Government hates public scrutiny and will block the release of information on infrastructure projects and other agency performance data that could damage Premier Baird’s image.
The Report states that “In 2014/15 total information release rates declined to 69% from 80% in 2010/11.” This data relates to requests made under the GIPA Act.
In the same year, of the information requests that were released, more of them were incomplete.
The report states, “[The overall] decline was accompanied by an increase in access granted in part outcomes, from 25% in 2010/11 to 42% in 2014/15.”
The Information and Privacy Commission places the blame of this decline squarely on the Government stating, “This gap between access granted in full and in part outcomes is attributable to the government sector.”
This revelation comes as Shadow Minster for Roads Jodi McKay introduced a private member’s bill into NSW Parliament to extend freedom of information laws to the government delivery agency managing the Westconnex project.
Currently, the government body which oversees WestConnex is not subject to the GIPA Act.
NSW Labor is calling for WestConnex to be subject to the same degree of public scrutiny as before it moved to the Sydney Motorway Corporation - a private entity.
In a shocking first for NSW, the SMC was set up by the Government to be free from freedom of information laws and shut down the release of information.
Furthermore, a statutory review of the GIPA Act was undertaken in August 2014 but nothing has been seen from the Government since.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Roads Jodi McKay:
“This report from the Privacy Commission confirms Mike Baird is Premier of the secret state.
“Deliberately exempting Westconnex from freedom of information requests means the government doesn’t want the public to know the details of a $17 billion project or they have something to hide. Perhaps, it’s both.
“The Baird approach is to lock the truth away – conceal the facts – and do whatever it takes to privatise and hide the proper functioning of Government from public oversight.
“Reforms to the GIPA Act will bring the Sydney Motor Corporation in line with public expectations about transparency and scrutiny of the projects that the people of NSW are paying for.
“The community will not cop a government that hides information which should be freely available.”