All Liberal and Labor Leichhardt councillors have voted in favour of charging $30 to access Leichhardt Council information which, since 2008, has been freely available to the public.
At the council meeting on Tuesday evening, April 29, it was only the four Greens councillors who voted against charging for Government information.
The Government Information (Public Access) – or GIPA – Act (formerly the Freedom of Information Act) allows for the disclosure of Government information unless there is overriding public interest against it.
“If the Labour and Liberal parties are genuinely serious about an open government, then they have a funny way of showing it,” says Jamie Parker MP.
“This is a bizarre move backwards on openness and accountability in politics, especially coming at a time when ICAC has blown the lid on corruption and behind-closed-door politics.
“It defies belief that local councillors feel it is appropriate to keep information behind a paywall.”
Leichhardt Greens councillor, Craig Channells, adds, “If we are calling for an open government, then council must be willing to be part of it.”
“We need to ensure the public, journalists, in fact anyone is able to shine a light into all levels of Government.”
“It seems the Greens are a lone voice in standing up for freedom of information.”
The move came after council was concerned that the number of requests for information was excessive.
“Unfortunately, the Liberal and Labor councillors have simply been lazy in their response. If a few people are abusing the system, then we need to address that issue, not throw it out altogether,” says Mr Channells.