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Liberals Treat Public's Right to Know with Contempt

10 Mar 2017

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens' Leader and Human Services spokesperson

Late yesterday, the Tasmanian Greens finally received the response to a Right to Information request we lodged on the 22nd of November last year.  It was almost three months behind the timeframe for the release of information under the Act, despite the fact an extension had not been granted.

We sought information specific to the finances of the for-profit provider, Safe Pathways, after Four Corners’ exposé that alleged the for-profit provider was receiving around $9,000 a week per child, but the carers were only being given $100 a week to provide for that child's needs.

We wanted to know how much government money, and therefore public funding, had been awarded to Safe Pathways. 

Despite our efforts through Right to Information, Tasmanians are still in the dark about how much of their taxes have been provided to a for-profit provider that stands accused of neglecting the children in its care.

None of the information we received was detail relevant to our request. There was almost no information that was not already publicly available released, and what we did get was almost three months late.

In a disgraceful non-compliance with the RTI Act, it was determined, for a number of documents, that all public interest matters weighed strongly against the release of the information.

The Liberals’ claim that Right to Information requests are handled at arm's length from Ministerial offices is a bare-faced untruth.   

It is standard operating procedure under this government for RTI requests to be delayed, refined, further delayed, and then to be released full of legal excuses for why almost all the material requested is fully exempted.

The past three years have plumbed the public’s right to know to new depths.

The Hodgman Government has an unhealthy attachment to secrecy.  The Liberals would rather allow the RTI Act to be breached than provide information that is in the public interest. 

Faced with a choice between secrecy and transparency, the Liberals would rather break or manipulate a law than be up front with Tasmanians about how they are spending their taxes.