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Ombudsman Annual Report Confirms Liberal RTI Secrecy


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Tags: Right to Information, Transparency

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader

The Gutwein Government’s secrecy is both shameless and unending.  

The Ombudsman’s Annual Report confirms Right to Information requests are being systematically refused, denied or left hanging outside of the legislated timeframe. It’s a pattern of deliberate refusals and obfuscation that has been fostered by the Liberals in government. 
 
Tasmania’s public authorities refused access to any information under RTI in 30% of cases. Under the Liberals, Tasmania is a whopping 750% more likely to refuse to release information than Australia’s two most open jurisdictions, and twice as likely to refuse to release information as Queensland, the second worst performer.  

This brings shame on Tasmania as the state or territory with the most secretive government.
 
The Greens have had five year long waits for information refused by departments, and appealed to the Ombudsman. 
 
We’ve put in RTI applications and had departmental officers claim they’d have to assess whether we were actually Members of Parliament to process the application. These are examples from information we sought about the Liberals’ privatisation of publicly-owned protected areas, and the safety of children in out-of-home care. 
 
The Ombudsman makes clear the percentage of refusals has risen every year since 2016/17. The Liberals falsely say things are just the same as under the Labor-Green Government, but the Ombudsman has called them out. 
 
Under the Liberals, secrecy is rife – and encouraged in government agencies.  It’s the culture now.
 
We know Premier Gutwein hasn’t been the biggest fan of transparency and scrutiny, but we urge him to rethink. Government is there to serve the public good, and should be accountable to them, always.