As a close watcher of the ACT Government’s ‘Open Government’ window dressing, I was somewhat bemused by the removal of documents from the FOI website that showed repeated warnings about Energy Services Invironmental were ignored.
Indeed, other elements of Katy’s Glasnost appear to be proceeding on a similarly Soviet track.
Despite their own Community Engagement Guidelines stating:
Where possible avoid engagement over the Christmas/January holiday period, or consider an extended consultation period over this time. Consultations that take place during school holidays may also require an extended consultation period.
they dumped the exposure draft of the Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2011 on the street on 22 December.
Overall, it appears a concerted attempt to bureaucratically ‘manage away’ any and all complainants through endless ‘reports’ and ‘notifications’. The Bill does allow for disclosures to be made to journalists, but only after the disclosure has not been investigated, or it has taken more than 6 months to investigate; the implication being that you’ll still get charged with a crime if you speak out during that time.
But here’s the kicker: the current Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 requires the number of substantiated disclosure be reported annually, and paragraph 11(3) requires that:
(3) The annual report shall include particulars of remedial action taken by the government agency in relation to—
(a) each public interest disclosure that was substantiated on investigation by the government agency; and
(b) any recommendations of the ombudsman or the auditor-general that relate to the government agency.
(Whether or not they actually report this currently is entirely another question.)
Section 40 of the ‘reformed’ Public Interest Disclosure Bill, however, removes any of those pernickity requirements for ACT Government agencies to actually publicly report whether or not disclosures were substantiated and anything they’ve actually done to fix the problems. Putin would be proud.
Never fear! The Discussion Paper advises that:
Submissions may be lodged by:
Public Interest Disclosure: Consultation
Public Sector Management
Chief Minister and Cabinet Directorate
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601
Further, submissions may be made in person by meeting face-to-face, or over the phone, with the drones in the Public Sector Management Branch of CMD. Appointments may be made between 20 February and 9 March 2012 by phoning 02 6205 0358.
Submissions close on 26 March 2012.