The South Australian Ombudsman’s 2018-19 Annual Report was tabled in parliament today.
Mr Wayne Lines reported his Office responded to over 4000 complaints about state and local government, nearly 10% of which were resolved with the co-operation of the relevant agency. The Ombudsman issued 59 final investigation reports, dealt with 47 matters involving allegations of misconduct and maladministration on referral from the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, and made 90 recommendations to agencies.
The 2018-19 year saw a dramatic increase in the number of requests for the Ombudsman to review agency determinations under the Freedom of Information Act 1991 from 127 in 2017-18 to 262 in 2018-19. The Ombudsman commented that this is a consequence of agencies having a marked increase in applications to access documents under the Act from shadow Ministers and not applying sufficient resources to deal with the influx. Mr Lines stated that this is an unsatisfactory situation which needs to be addressed on several fronts:
"Firstly, agencies and my Office need to be properly resourced to be able to perform the functions under the Act in a timely and competent way. Secondly, applicants need to utilise the Act responsibly and not exploit the right to access documents for trivial or vexatious purposes. Thirdly, the Act needs to be reformed to modernise and streamline some of the processes and clarify ambiguities."
To view the 2018-19 Annual Report click here.
Source: South Australian Ombudsman