FoI in Australia: Dept of Immigration criticised over its handling of FoI requests

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has released a damning report on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's handling of freedom-of-information requests over the past three years.

The report, triggered by a surge in complaints in 2005, found the department breached the 30-day statutory deadline in responding to requests in four of 10 cases last year, and blocked requests for personal information by unnecessarily using the FoI Act.

This contributed to a "significant" backlog of cases, the oldest open for two years, the Department Of Immigration And Citizenship: Timeliness Of Decision Making Under The Freedom Of Information Act 1982 report said.

"FoI delays can disadvantage members of the public who need official documents in order to access other legal rights," said John McMillan, the Commonwealth and Immigration Ombudsman behind the report. "Delay also undermines the open government objective of the FoI Act."

Immigration delays attacked (Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 2008)