Friday, February 29, 2008

Public interest demands disclosure on Bay monitoring

Today The Age published my letter responding to Peter Ker's recent report that a new Upper House committee of the Victorian parliament is set to scrutinise the economic case for dredging Port Phillip Bay. The report also predicted the defeat of a move by Victorian Opposition Leader, Ted Baillieu, to introduce online publication of environmental monitoring information within 24 hours of its receipt. It seems the government's reluctance to disclose public interest information is common to small public housing redevelopments and large-scale Bay dredging projects alike.

Here's the letter:
The Upper House vote to establish a committee to scrutinise the touted economic benefits of Bay dredging is good news. However, what possible public interest reason could justify the Lower House rejection of Ted Baillieu's additional proposal to publish environmental monitoring information on the Internet within 24 hours of its receipt?

Since we are assured of the environmental rigour of the monitoring, the government surely cannot fear that prompt online publication might reveal holes in the process? If indeed there is appropriate monitoring, I challenge Mr Brumby to give us the reasons we can't have timely results. Note to Premier: The possibility that 24 hours is a bit short for a spin cycle doesn't count.

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