“A lack of knowledge, skill or judgment in a member’s profes­sional responsibilities; or a disregard for a person’s welfare”, is how the dictionary defines professional incompetence. The proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reek of incompetence and inefficiency, which are being rewarded despite what the Government has advanced.

Section 3 1(a) of the law identifies a key objective, which inter alia, “making available to the public information...readily available to persons affected...”. This last phrase is absolutely important to affected persons, to enable them to address their issues in a timely manner. How then can extending the 30-day period be considered “readily available”?

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If the public authority that has to respond to a request cannot provide the information in 30 days, is it signalling its incompetence and inefficiency? The court usually gives the “losing side” a period of seven, 14 or 21 days within which to file a response to a matter. What then makes the public authority, with its myriad human and other resources, an exception?

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