Concerns raised by council’s changes to information guide

Bill Lancaster
Bill Lancaster

Concerns have been raised over a proposed change to Griffith City Council’s information act that could see people paying to access certain information council deem not to be within public interest. 

Former Councillor Bill Lancaster addressed council at a recent meeting and urged councillors to lay the matter on the table so they could have more time to think about it. 

Mr Lancaster raised questions with regards to access certain documents like to Development Applications (DA). 

While council say certain documents and information are made public free of charge, Mr Lancaster took issue with an amendment adding “unless there is an overriding public interest against the disclosure of this information”. 

Executive Services Manager Shireen Donaldson said the information guide is a requirement of every council under the 2009 act. 

“The Information Guide helps ensure Government information is publicly available and up to date, and provides a device through which the community is able to identify information held by agencies,” she said. 

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“Council is required to periodically review the Guide to ensure information in the Guide is current and correct.” 

Following Mr Lancaster’s speech, the matter was held off until councillors could be properly briefed on the issue at an upcoming workshop.

Mr Lancaster said he was pleased with the outcome as he felt it was important to take extra time out to be briefed on the proposed changes. 

“Various members of the public rely on that information, for example people who are looking to buy property and want to see if houses and sheds have been properly approved,” he said. 

“At the moment they can go along and find out what’s public and what isn’t. In my view, the proposal puts that in jeopardy.” 

Ms Donaldson said the changes were made to update the existing act. 

“During the latest review, changes to structures and functions of Council were amended and updated,” she said.

“Changes to legislation were recorded and further clarification provided within the other categories of information required to be in the Guide as per guidance provided by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commission NSW