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Right To Information system falls hopelessly apart under Liberals

  • Hodgman Government has chronically under-resourced Tasmanian’s right to know
  • Government has important, pertinent questions around information being hidden
  • Number of refused RTIs increases by 41 per cent
  • Blow out in waiting times is unacceptable

 The Hodgman Government’s hallmark of secrecy has been irrefutably exposed by the Right To Information annual report 2015-16 which shows 31 per cent of applications were not completed on time and a 41 per cent increase in the number of refusals compared to the previous year.

Shadow Minister for Open Government Madeleine Ogilvie said the annual report of RTI applications showed a system that had fallen apart under the Liberals.

“The Liberal Government has under-resourced the RTI system to the extent where Tasmanians are being precluded from receiving the information that they are entitled to,” Ms Ogilvie said.

“The obstruction of Tasmanians seeking information from a government that claims to be open and transparent is so blatant, that you can only assume it is also deliberate.

“These figures are nothing short of shocking.

“There is no explanation Will Hodgman and his Ministers can offer other than that they are resolute in their dogged determination to run a government that trades in secrecy and is willing to hide information at every opportunity.

“As someone who has a strong belief in open, transparent and honest government, I’m personally appalled.”

The review of RTI applications over the past year shows:

  • 17 RTI applications were determined by a Minister but only seven were completed within the legislatively stipulated due date (a 59 per cent failure rate)
  • There was a 3.6 per cent increase in applications received across the year
  • There was a 41 per cent increase in the number of applications refused from 13.4 per cent to 18.9 per cent
  • The number of refused or excepted requests in Departments and Ministerial offices rose from 20.3 per cent in 2014-15 to 27 per cent last year – a 33 per cent increase
  • 32 per cent of applications determined by Government Departments took more than the required legislative timeframe of 20 working days
  • 58 per cent of RTIs direct to Ministers took more than 20 working days to determine – a 76 per cent increase on last year.
  • On three occasions, the Ombudsman set aside an RTI decision and varied a decision on three other occasions

“The Ombudsman told Budget Estimates Hearings that there has been an 81 per cent increase in the number of external RTI reviews to his office which shows Tasmanians are frustrated by this government’s obstruction,” Ms Ogilvie said.

“Quite clearly we have a system which has been collapsed both intentionally and calculatingly.”