FoI bill stuns animal advocates


A MORNINGTON-based animal advocacy group is resorting to a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for a costly freedom-of-information request.

The group has been quoted $1108 for Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s FoI officer to answer six detailed questions about the community animal shelter, in Watt Rd, Mornington.

The shire wants half of the cost ($554) before starting a search for the information.

The shire’s FoI officer estimated it would take 40-53 hours to research answers for the group which has campaigned for greater transparency in the shire’s handling of impounded dogs and cats.

NSW resident Judith Anne Carter made the FoI request for Rosy Fischer, of Mornington, who is campaigning for a no-kill policy at the animal shelter.

“We have requested information regarding the community animal shelter at Mornington and they want to charge us over $1100 for information they say is not in the public interest,” Ms Fischer said.

“I think it is an absolute disgrace that we have to do it to find out something that should be freely available to the public.

“As a ratepayer, I want to know what has happened to animals at this pound and I am very dubious re the statistics.

“I also tried to find out things like the budget for the pound, but it was listed with another division within the environment protection department, so therefore I couldn’t tell what the budget was for the shelter alone.”

The FoI request seeks details about animals held at the shelter over the 12 months to January; vets bills for euthanising animals; where pets have been rehoused; how many cats and dogs are registered with the shire; the fate of 54 cats unaccounted for; and the shelter’s budget.

The group was told by FoI officer Kate McNab in a letter that “the documents being sought are not in the public interest …” and that access charges were applicable.

Also, that much of the information was “already publicly available” through community and annual reports.

“Specific details of the requested documents … with respect to requesting impound numbers is not seen to be in line with general public interest as this information would be irrelevant … to the general public.”

First published in the Mornington News – 13 June 2017


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