Sad to say that the Cardfightback Team has recently learned of some very disturbing comments coming out of the mouth of the NT Education Department’s FOI Officer which for us cast serious doubt on his ability to do his job properly. Freedom of Information is a legal right of every citizen and we should be able to expect that the government departments delivering the documents and the people inside the organization searching for them do so with honesty and integrity. Everyone knows that this is often not the case however – people delete emails, shred paper, lie and say they don’t have anything when they do, hide documents on different drives – and Lance’s comments to applicants recently (both on the phone so there is no paper trail) begin to show some of the ways the Education Department has been possibly withholding documents and/or information from applicants. This is a serious breach of trust but maybe also of the Information Act itself. Dangerously murky waters….according to notes, here is what Lance said:
1. “I can’t give you the document but I can read it out to you”. The applicant asked if their name was mentioned and Lance replied “No”. On further pushing the document was eventually released as it should have been according to the Act and the applicant’s name was definitely mentioned in it.
2. Another applicant received some documents with disturbing comments made about them (behind their back) from one of their superior officers (wow, where have we seen that before….cough cough, tattooed monkey, cough, get a gun licence, cough, tell them you have a vermin problem). Lance spoke to the applicant again on the phone and said to them: “He was surprised with some of the content of the emails because normally DECS will prevent things like this getting through and he didn’t know if these things had been said to my face.”
If this is true then what else has been withheld from people and for how long? How does ‘DECS prevent things like this from getting through’? Is Lance himself doing this or is he being pressured from ‘up above’? Is this legal? Write to the Education Minister and ask. More importantly, treat everything with a healthy dose of skepticism, never accept the first answer given to you, always push for a review of your FOI decision and if you hear of anything else like this: tell us, the Authorities, the Information Commissioner, the Education Minister and/or even the Police – don’t trust others to do it for you.