Monday, 5 November 2007

Moss Report: democracy is eroded

The Moss Report has concluded that Australian democracy is being eroded through a growing culture of secrecy.

Australians are the victims of a secretive culture that makes public officials too frightened to release vital information, the report announced on the state of free speech.

The study of how information is kept hidden from the public has found that governments (and judges) are denying access to “vital information” through secrecy legislation, “flimsy” suppression orders and million dollar fees for individual Freedom of Information requests.

This report, and it's implications, is very relevant for the many Cairns residents who have experienced such suppression with our own City Council. Over recent weeks and months, I have received at least 40 emails and telephone calls relating experiences and stories were residents have felt their Council was being far from open. Some are shocking, and some are mundane. However, it has shown a pattern of distrust and openness with it's ratepayers.

The primary experiences explained were interactions with officials at Council when requesting services, or with Councillors.

The audit was commissioned by the Australia’s Right to Know Coalition, and found Australians were kept in the dark on a number of public investigations. It was carried out by Irene Moss, a former Ombudsman and former chair of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. She revealed the “secretive” nature of public servants and magistrates who have:
  • granted more than 1000 suppression orders that still apply today;
  • asked for “exorbitant” amounts of money for Freedom of Information requests – including $1.25 million for a report into MP’s travelling expenses, and
  • implemented 335 different government legislations that have “secrecy” provisions to stop journalists from publishing important information.


The request for the results of an opinion poll into the effectiveness of the Federal Government’s $32 million WorkChoices campaign will not be released until after the election.
The Australia’s Right to Know Coalition, made up of major media companies including News Limited, the parent company of the publisher of NEWS.com.au
The report highlighted a “serious slide into censorship and secrecy” by politicians. News Ltd said that this report “confirms that Australians are not allowed to know enough about how governments at all levels of our society function and how their courts dispense justice.”
CairnsBlog would welcome and encourage you to communicate your experiences.
Some Links:

6 comments:

Typical Illiterate Aussie Battler said...

Too many stories with too many big words, Michael.

When ya' gonna get back to slagging the mayor and council? We're not here to read about $300 laptops and ABC TV shows. . . .

Anonymous said...

have you heard about the NZ Government covering up an archeological dig nack in the 60s that proved White European settlement of NZ, 1,000 years before the Maoris arrived. A report on this site is being kept secret by the NZ Govt until 2063 because it would apparently cause social disharmony and toally stuff up all Maori legal land and compo claims.

Anonymous said...

Democracy is weakening because people no longer understand democratic principles. TO WIT -
Australians comments on David Hicks. Notice how not too many knew the issue at stake was the basic, most fundamental right to a fair trial??? One of our most basic rights in a democracy....and how many Australians realised it???

Usually deleted said...

you delete a lot of posts that are simply critical of you dont you.
I have never been offensive, mearly pointed out an alternative view, and you repeatedly censor my posts.
Maybe mine are to close to the bone - how many others do you delete?

a person said...

Byrne did not say anything about mr moore on radio this morning,only about the red cross.
When posting amke sure the yellow bit up the top appears to say post has been published.

margaret whitlam said...

It appears that some people are not even clever enough to work this blog.....if all else fails read the instructions. It isnt rocket science !