COMMENT: ABC submission to The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Public consultation on the exposure draft of the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2009. The statements repeated below caught our eye. The full document is available here:
Ensuring public accountability while protecting independence and integrity.
When considering the extent to which the ABC is subject to the FOIA, it is important to bear in mind that the ABC’s administrative functions are quite distinct from its newsgathering and programming activities. The former are quite properly the subject of FOIA. The ABC is a public body funded by public monies and accordingly is and should be held to account for the management and administration of the corporation and its resources. The latter newsgathering and programming activities, however, are not governmental activities. The ABC is held to account for maintaining high standards in its journalistic and creative endeavours through a mixture of co- and self-regulatory measures which have been carefully crafted to protect the ABC’s independence and integrity and ensure it is not subject to interference by external influences – whether by government, commercial or private interests.
The proposed model for the ABC’s exclusion
The ABC proposes that the current exclusion in the FOIA be replaced with wording that uses the Canadian exclusion, suitably adapted for the digital era. Accordingly, the following wording is proposed to be used in substitution to the current exclusion in Schedule 2 of the FOIA: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in relation to documents in respect of its journalistic, creative or content activities, other than documents relating to its general administration.
Time that self regulation ended and the ABC was exposed to the full force of FOI to give the public the right to be able to investigate poor editorial and programming decisions such as those surrounding "A climate time line". With the ABC's preferred text adopted that chamber of secrets will be sealed tight forever.