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Byron Shire
July 18, 2024

Editorial – Secret governments are untrustworthy

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The small amount of information that Resilience NSW supplied a resident regarding their GIPA request was wrong (see: Resilience NSW provides redacted, inaccurate docs). 

Imagine what we, the public, would know if government departments like Resilience NSW – and Council – were actually transparent?

Transparency is one safeguard that prevents tyranny from taking over from the frail mechanism called democracy. 

Another safeguard is good bureaucratic process. 

For example, if the decision to house flood-affected residents on a flood-prone location is based on misleading documents, then surely there should be repercussions and a halt to the development?

What is unfolding in Mullum is actually dangerous to both current residents and those that are proposed to be housed there. 

The BoM predicts a third consecutive La Niña is on its way.

Yet it just seems no one in power cares, or is prepared to act responsibly. 

For his entire tenure, there is not much evidence the mayor has shown interest in good bureaucratic process. The optics instead have been ambition above substance.

The reason this all matters is simple – if bureaucrats and inept politicians get away with doing this to a small section of the community, then they will be more emboldened.  

At one time, there was at least some self reflection and integrity when it came to governance. 

It was understood that incompetence should not be tolerated, because decision making at a governance level is so significant. 

Now, great lengths are taken by politicians to protect poor behaviour and incompetence within the ‘tent’ of governance. There is tremendous power entrusted to the bureaucracy – they are only beholden to politicians who create the laws. 

No one else can touch them.

It can’t be emphasised enough how little positive and progressive reform occurs because of this protection racket by politicians, and how we, the public suffer, for it.  

The main opportunity that the public have to break the protection racket is on election day, yet there’s a lot of damage that can be done in between election years.

Class actions are another option, but it shouldn’t have to come to that. 

At the federal level, transparency and accountability appears to be just as bad. In 2019, The Guardian reported that ‘The Australian government is refusing access to documents at record rates, aided by a flawed freedom of information regime beset by delays, understaffing and unnecessary obfuscation’.

Last week, former Independent MP Rex Patrick announced that he is asking the Federal Court to find that the federal Information Commissioner (IC), Angelene Falk, is taking an unreasonable amount of time to review an agency freedom of information access refusal decision. 

He says over two years is too long. 

Patrick wrote in www.michaelwest.com.au that ‘the IC’s official position, put in writing to the court, is that she can sit on a decision forever!’

Patrick also claims that Labor Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, ‘allowed hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to be spent on the case’, yet while in opposition, Dreyfus had sided with Patrick’s position.

That’s what a scared and impotent politician, in a very powerful position, looks like.

Hans Lovejoy, editor

News tips are welcome:[email protected]


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3 COMMENTS

    • Stop relying on government. Make you own parallel systems. Have the people band together when ever government threatens one of those citizen run system. Warden is your local disaster recovery department. Support them. Build more citizen organisations for the things you need. Eventually the old government will go away and your new government and system will become mainstream and legally recognised.

  1. they need some approval in writing to allow the pods on the rail way ,

    Then u can challenge it in judicial review in land and environmental court,

    Then the council n resilience or whoever approved the pods have to hand over all the unredacted documents, they won’t like that

    Such a strategy you could start within weeks or days if you go for it,

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