Monday, February 07, 2005

One small step for Ombudsman

A giant leap for Sydneysiders appears to be on its way in the long overdue reform of the secretive despotism of council staff.

Another Press release from Clover Moore follows, referring to the Ombudsman's scathing report on CoS staff. This was triggered by complaints by the SMH that council refused to supply documents concerning their ten-year refusal to implement a bike plan for Sydney. One hopes that the senior staffer who recently boasted that he likes running down cyclists will get a kick in the pants.



The NSW Ombudsman office has recommended changes to the City of Sydney's Freedom of Information (FOI) procedures. I support full
implementation of the recommendations, which include redetermination of a two and a half year old FOI request and an independent review of similar FOI requests during the preceding 18 months.

I also want the City go beyond the Ombudsman's recommendations and undertake a review of the City's existing FOI processes and related procedures for providing public access to information.

The review should consider best practice approaches and develop options for Council's consideration on how to enhance ease of access to document the public has a right to view, minimise the number and length of time documents are withheld, and ensure reasons for withholding documents are clearly articulated.

I am strongly committed to FOI reform and, during the 52nd Parliament, co-authored the Independents' Charter of Reform that
opened up political decision-making processes, increased scrutiny of public administration, and made freedom of information processes more accessible.

Most recently, I sponsored in Parliament legislative reform (the Government (Open Market Competition) Bill) to increase public scrutiny
for government contracts and grant arrangements. In November, Council supported my proposal to review Council's handling of tendering and contracts with a view to strengthening these principles in Council's operations.

I will pursue the positive principles of the Charter of Reform within the City of Sydney. Council recently appointed a new Chief Executive
Officer who will have my full support to continue a process of positive reform.

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