Delays, costs hamper FOI systems

Freedom of Information laws are designed to increase government accountability by allowing citizens to access documents related to government actions. However, concerns have been raised about how effective the arrangements are. In Victoria, the FOI Commissioner is struggling to process the large volume of requests. The cost of the Commonwealth system has been criticised, after a software developer was billed $720.30 in fees to access 130 pages of correspondence—including charges for 36.12 hours of decision-making time, or more than a full working week. “I assume that most of that is boosted up and inflated in order to kind of deter people from making FOI requests”, he said. He had requested any documents referring to Stop Tony Meow, a “browser extension that replaces photos of Tony Abbott with pictures of cute kittens”. The government’s response can be viewed at Right to Know, a website that helps citizens lodge federal FOI requests.