Recently, there have been rumblings about the Attorney-General’s Department no longer publishing documents for freedom of information requests on their disclosure log as was previous practice. This is problematic, as a trend against transparency is not something we want to see from the AGD when it’s already so difficult to get facts out of government departments.

One of the rumblings going around was that it was due to accessibility reasons. This sounds like complete bullshit to me, given I’ve never seen an FOI request that a screen reader liked, so this is almost certainly not the case.

This lack of transparency spurned me into doing a project I’ve been meaning to do for a while. At this stage it’s called ‘foitorrent’, a system that scrapes all available documents from disclosure logs, and converts them into a torrent. This means that even if the original document is removed from the disclosure log, which does happen from time to time, it will still exist in the swarm while there are still seeders. A great way to archive government information.

This post was also published in the Guardian. This is the unedited version.

Only in Australia could the phrase “public briefing” mean that the meeting will be held behind closed doors, where journalists are not welcome.

Only yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) rescinded the invitations of several journalists to attend a public briefing regarding a multilateral trade agreement under negotiation called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The TPP is an extensive agreement that covers typical topics such as goods and services, but also contains chapters on labour laws, intellectual property, the environment and investor-state dispute settlement provisions. This agreement is currently being negotiated completely opaquely between the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. DFAT claims that it will be finished negotiating by the end of the year.