“Free to those that can afford it, very expensive to those that can’t”* Creating the Luxury of Freedom of Information

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The underpinning values in freedom of information are openness and transparency. They can be regarded separately as openness represents an individuals right to access information and transparency representing a persons ability to scrutinize the decision making process. The need for adequate freedom of information provisions was summed up the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Affairs on the Freedom of Information Bill 1978. Continue reading

The Thirty Year Rule (but subject to exemptions…)

As stated by the fictional character of Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister ‘Open Government is a contradiction in terms. You can be open, or you can have government. The Thirty Year rule is a good example of this situation.

The thirty year rule allows for the release of Cabinet Documents after the efflux of a thirty year period from the year in which they were created. Section 10 of the National Archives Act allows for the inspection of records except where they are less than 30 years old (s.10.1 (a)) or older than 30 years where their release may be contrary to the public interest, breach of statutory duty or cause damage or distress to living persons (s. 8.4). The documents which are the subject to the provisions of s 8.4 can be reviewed after a period five years by a member of the Government Department responsible for the records. Furthermore, under s.10.6 a Minister, or member of Government, is entitled to grant access to departmental document prior to the elapse of this thirty year time period.  This section was used in 1992 to allow for the release of Cabinet Documents in the wake of the confusion of the Hamilton Judgment. Continue reading

Political Representation: A luxury for the good times and a way to save money in the bad?

Jennifer Kavanagh (7th May 2011)

This week Minister Hogan annouced plans to reduce the number of TDs in Dail Eireann:

“Minister Hogan said: “The new Government intends to lead by example and start change at the top. Irish politics needs to start delivering for the Irish people and this Government is determined to make real, tangible reforms which will make the political system leaner and more efficient for its citizens. As part of that agenda, the terms of reference for the Constituency Commission will be changed to provide for a reduced number of TDs.  A Constituency Commission is due to be established upon the publication of the 2011 Census preliminary results, which are due in June.  That Commission will report within three months of the publication of final census results in 2012.”[i] Continue reading

Removing a TD from Office – Harder than you think…

Jennifer Kavanagh 23/03/2011

(Originally posted on quiatimet.com 22/03/2011)

Today the final Moriarty report was revealed. The allegations therein have caused many to speculate whether charges will be made against any of the persons involved for corruption. One of the people named in the report happens to be that of Michael Lowry who is a sitting TD for the constituency of North Tipperary. If it were to be the case that the House sought to expel a TD then it would make for both interesting political debate and throw up some interesting questions for constitutional law. Continue reading

Cabinet Confidentiality

Jennifer Kavanagh 1st December 2010

As it currently stands, if someone wants to see the current cabinet papers on the IMF bailout they must wait until 2040. It’s almost like the last line in the Oliver Stone film “JFK” where the father tells the son to wait for 30 years to see if he was correct about his theory on the assaination of JFK. Continue reading