For those considering an FOI request to the ABC for program related material, such as internal correspondence that might provide an insight into the way errors get into the ABC's editorial process, beware of a clause in the FOI act that lists the ABC as an exempt agency with respect to documents "in relation to its program material and datacasting content" (Part II of schedule 2). We have emailed the communications Minister Stephen Conroy for clarification as to why this should be the case. ABC programming is paid for by tax payer's funds and should be as open to scrutiny and audit as much as the rest of government. Why is the ABC provided with a "chamber of secrets" in which to place its dirty laundry?
ABC cite ABC v University of Technology Sydney in relationship to this and from the ruling it seems the only way to open the vault is for the FOI ACT to be amended to allow access to ABC documents. Read the judgement HERE, it appears it effectively excludes the ABC from FOI in relation anything related to program material.
See http://abcnewswatch.blogspot.com/2010/02/foi-request-for-climate-time-line.html for the impact this "Stainesque" legislation had on our attempt to investigate errors in an ABC program.
For those considering an FOI request we suggest first speaking with ABC FOI coordinator prior to formally applying to save some time and cash. The application fee costs $30.00.
Update: By the way here's what Sen John Faulkner had to say about changes to FOI made by the government in early 2009: