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FoI Request Forces auDA to Make Public Documents They Tried to Keep Secret

The .au policy and regulatory body, auDA, has been forced to make available 115 documents, previously published on their website but deleted under the new management. However going forward auDA has vowed to keep the documents secret, to continue to hide the goings on in the organisation. The documents were board minutes and other historical information going back to 2000.

The move follows a Freedom of Information request to the Freedom of Information Commissioner at the Department of Communication and the Arts organised by former board member Josh Rowe to have the documents reinstated. auDA have previously claimed, in an effort to keep secret the goings on at the body, the move to delete the documents would result in better accountability and transparency.

According to the FoI request, it was requested that access be given to 115 documents that were deleted. The Information Commissioner agreed the documents should be given access to, and these documents will be reinstated on the auDA website within the next month.

But in an effort to pull the wool over the eyes of auDA members, stakeholders and interested parties, in an email to Members on 5 July they state it was a decision of the Board to reinstate the documents with no mention of the FoI request. auDA have fought the FoI request trying to deny the right of auDA members, stakeholders and other interested parties to have access to what happens within the organisation. But it will try and continue to do so as the FoI request only relates to already published documents and auDA intends to deny access to the same documents in the future.

In their email to members, auDA disingenuously says:
While we stand by the need to adhere to best practice regarding the governance of the organisation, we accept the feedback that past Board papers do not necessarily affect that adherence. The Board has approved the reinstatement of past Board papers and Board member listings, as archived on the current auDA website. The website will be updated to reflect this resolution within the week of receipt of this email.

However to show they’re not interested in any form of transparency, the next paragraph reads:
We maintain the Board’s decision that all future Board papers (from 13 February 2017) will not be published on the website, with the monthly auDA Members’ Newsletter hosting Board updates as well as the regular Member Meet-ups providing an opportunity for two-way conversation. Thank you again for your feedback and we now look forward to continuing to implement the Governance plans as promised at the 2016 AGM.

* Disclaimer: the writer was an auDA Board member (2005 to 2007), served on 3 auDA Names Policy Panels (2007, 2010 and 2015), was a supplier to auDA for 14 years and is now a supplier to AusRegistry proving online media monitoring services and contributing to the Behind the Dot magazine.