Freedom Of Information

Topics: Government agency, Government, Agency Pages: 5 (1738 words) Published: September 21, 2013
FOI
The communication structure in a country should be one which allows for a national and international balance that is beneficial to it and to its people. This could be considered as a balanced flow of information into, out of, and across the country. The press, and for the matter, the public, has a constitutional right to demand the examination of public records as part of freedom of information (Paterson, 2005). It is a public right where the parties concerned are the citizens and they can ask for information as long as it is of public interest. This is the freedom of information. It simply means the access by individuals as a presumptive right to information held by public authorities (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1990). The object of the Freedom of Information Act is to extend as far as possible the right of access of the Australian community to information in the possession of the government. There are two ways by which this is done. First is to require the annual publication of certain information by each government department or agency and the second is by the creation of an enforceable right of access to specific information held by government departments or agencies (Wallace & Pagone, 1990). This right, however, does not mean that everyday citizens can just go to public offices and demand right away what they want to know. As is in many other countries, the right to information is subject to such limitations as may be provided by law (Martin, 2008). This means that while access to public records may not be prohibited, it certainly may be regulated by the government depending on the degree of public interest involved. This regulation may be in the form of a law or sometimes by order of the courts. Usually tests are applied such as the public interest test. It can therefore be said that while freedom of information exists as a right, it may be curtailed depending on how confidential the information sought is and how it could affect the security of the country and the safety of the people (Birkinshaw, 2010). The allowable scope of official limitation on access to official records would depend on the laws existing and the interests that are involved. Information in this sense is very broad and would pertain to records including all books, papers, maps, photographs or other documentary material. Information must be made available promptly to the person requesting it. The law or the courts sometimes exempts, however, certain classes of information related to national security or involving trade secrets, investigatory files, material exempted from disclosure by statutes, reports prepared for use in regulating financial institutions, and other matters considered confidential (Wallace & Pagone, 1990; Corder, 1995). In this scenario, Max Crane made a Freedom of Information application to the WA Nature Conservation Authority for release of a number of documents relating to the controversial proposed development of a housing estate by Building Big adjacent to the Spinney Wetlands, which is a breeding site for the rare creaking-back frog, as well as being a haven for a number of migratory bird species. Considering that the proposed development is adjacent to an ecological area where frogs and birds live, this could be in contradiction to one of the sections in Environmental Assessment Act 2004 which states that: A proposed development must be environmentally sustainable and not undermine the ecological integrity of environs adjacent to the development.  One can just imagine how the people who will occupy and dwellings to be developed in the area will affect the ecological balance in the area. It could come to worse that the breeding site for the rare frog as well as a haven for migratory birds may no longer be present in a few years or even just in a span of months. Given this situation, one could say that the issue is one of transcendental importance and indeed affects public interest. As such it should be considered as...
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