[LINK] Key NBN bill passes the Senate

Jan Whitaker jwhit at melbpc.org.au
Sat Mar 26 09:53:09 AEDT 2011

At 09:04 AM 26/03/2011, Tom Worthington wrote:
>However, the review does not of itself change the FOI Act to cover NBN
>Co. It seems reasonable to me that the FOI act should apply to NBN Co.,
>given that it has a legislated monopoly and acts at the direction of the
>Minister for Broadband.

That's unfortunate. I saw in The Age this morning that NBN just has 
to demonstrate they have lawfully complied with something they don't 
have to comply with. Huh?
"The government also agreed to review after one year whether NBN Co 
was complying with freedom-of-information laws, after a Greens amendment."

It doesn't exactly say that. It says the following and there is NO 
change to the FOI requirements of NBN Co at all (see point 4 below):

100A   Review of operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 so 
far as that Act relates to documents of NBN Co
              (1)  Before the first anniversary of the commencement 
of this section, the FOI Minister must cause to be conducted a review 
of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 so far as 
that Act relates to documents of NBN Co.
              (2)  The FOI Minister must cause to be prepared a 
report of a review under subsection (1).
              (3)  The FOI Minister must cause copies of the report 
to be tabled in each House of the Parliament.
              (4)  For the purposes of this section, the question of 
whether a document is a document of NBN Co is to be determined in the 
same manner as that question is determined under the Freedom of 
Information Act 1982 .
              (5)  In this section:

document has the same meaning as in the Freedom of Information Act 1982 .
FOI Minister means the Minister administering the Freedom of 
Information Act 1982 .

There are other groups that have been said to be outside FOI, such as 
NEHTA. [Roger, correct me if I have this wrong.] This has been a 
problem because of the level of reliance the country has on this 
group for eHealth, and in particular for the last 10 years, 
electronic health records.

It's like we have this second government operating, either through 
assigned 'independent' qangos that just fall outside the compliance 
rules or public-private-partnerships where commercial in confidence 
comes into play.

In the first, it's ALL public money that is funding them, so they 
should be covered by the same rules we expect of the government 
agencies to whom they answer. It's like the govt department has this 
checklist when dreaming up the structure to handle a program: do we 
want to hide some of this and keep the public out? Yes = Set up 
qango. No = set up department task force.

I can see how there might be adjustments for PPPs, but not with 
regard to the moneys we spend on our share of those projects.


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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