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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

FOI Down Under: Fewer requests, but more access

From The Australian:

In Australia, FOI requests have hit their lowest level in five years.

But more FOI applications are being approved, the latest figures show.

The annual report on freedom of information laws, released today by former Howard government attorney-general Philip Ruddock, details how well the crucial laws are achieving their aim of ensuring transparency in government.

It also shows bureaucrats are still refusing to release a great deal of information held by federal departments.

One in five requests for information during 2006-07 was knocked back at least in part, although 80 per cent of applications were granted for full release - a two per cent increase on 2005-06.

Centrelink and the departments of Immigration and Veterans' Affairs were the main recipients of FOI requests during 2006-07, mostly from people seeking details on their own cases.

A total of 38,787 FOI requests were received by all federal departments and agencies - down from 41,430 on the previous year and the lowest number since 2001-02.

Of the 34,158 rulings made during the year, 1,499 were refused outright, 5,128 were “partially granted” - and thus partially refused - and 27,531 were granted in full.

Documents granted for partial release frequently contain large sections of blacked-out material that prevent the applicant from knowing the full story.

But the number of FOI applications refused outright fell from six per cent in 2005-06 to 4.4 per cent in the last financial year.

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