Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The FOI Commissioner is reluctant to make a decision

On 26 November 2012 Ms Leisa Raams said she received the documents in concern from the PMC that week and would inform me her decision in two weeks. However, on 18 December she advised that she had no time to deal with my case. She might do it in January or February.

Why did she change her attitude toward the case? In my opinion, the FOI Commissioner is reluctant to make a decision on requesting the PMC disclosing the information in according with the FOI law. He tried to negotiate or mediate with the PMC rather than instruct them. The negotiation process obviously needs longer than a month for the communication between the Commissioner and the PMC.

In her letter of 17 October 2012, Ms Raams wrote: ‘The OAIC will assess information provided by PMC. We will consider whether a review or further information is warranted. This may involve requesting further submissions from either party.’ Even though she clarified: ‘Our experience suggests that it is generally easier to achieve a fair, open and timely outcome if each party has access to all information relied upon by the other party (other than material considered to be exempt),’ she did not pass any information from PMC to me.

I have no doubt that Ms Raams knows that ‘a fair, open and timely outcome’ is requested by the FOI Act, but in practice, she cloud not try to achieve ‘a fair, open and timely outcome’.

What a shame!