Constituents should be alarmed! Look at what the administration does, not at what they say they do!

A ‘mudguard’ is an old term for it – shiny on top, dirt underneath! No community dissatisfaction, as reported in one local paper, is nonsense if you are one who is trying to work with them.

My Freedom of Information (FOI) request was lodged on January 16, 2020 and still drags on – with virtually nothing of substance requested supplied. There have been in excess of 60 written communications. Now, why on earth would the party seeking the information be instigating that sort of delay?

On September 16, 2020 – nine months into the process – I received a letter including this: “In order to treat your request for documents as validly made under s 17 of the FOI Act, we need written confirmation that the precise scope of your request is as set out above.”

What exactly was it that they thought we had been thrashing out for the previous nine months?

This letter went on to say: “Can you please confirm by return mail” – “Unless that confirmation is received within 7 days, the council may refuse to comply with your request given that a reasonable opportunity has been provided to you to clarify the scope of your request: Please note that until the request is made in a manner required by s 17 of the FOI Act it cannot be processed…”.

No doubt I did contribute a little to the delay, having been seriously incapacitated, culminating in an operation (September 22, 2020) to remove a cyst interfering with two nerves in my spine. Nevertheless, the prime delay cause was my acceptance, in good faith, suggestions by FOI Officers that were not advantageous to me.

That’s ‘unconscionable conduct’ in my view and contradictory to the Professional Standards (Ref: s 16 (1) – Access to government information – Statement: The Act creates a general right of access to a document in the possession of an agency (in this case SGSC). An agency must also administer the Act with a view to making the maximum amount of government information available promptly and inexpensively. I have paid SGSC $598.62.

There is much more. But: ‘What is there to hide?’ is the real question.

John McComb, Leongatha.