RIGHT TO KNOW: When we deserved to know the truth
THE pursuit of accurate information in the public interest is a cornerstone of The Observer's daily function.
But sometimes the path to the truth is blocked by legislation disguised as responsible policy around commercial-in-confidence or privacy issues.
Politicians and government departments should help inform the community, not avoid answers, sidestep the issues or passing the buck.
Today The Observer joins with Newscorp to demand transparency in information access on matters of public importance.
Take the maritime tragedy the Dianne, which claimed the lives of six fishermen when it capsized off the coast of Seventeen Seventy in October, 2017.
Relatives of the late fishermen campaigned for the Vessel Monitoring System to be used for safety purposes. At the time Australian Maritime Safety Authority did not say the VMS could be used for safety purposes.
It said while it would be supportive of this change, it would be a decision for state and federal governments.
It wasn't until a joint inquest into the Dianne in March this year that the Department of Fisheries revealed the system was initially intended to be used for safety at sea.
Central Coroner Magistrate David O'Connell said the affidavit provided by the Department stated on four occasions that the VMS did not have a safety function.
"The worst aspect was it took until sometime during the inquest before any concession was made … that not only this function of the VMS is currently available … but that it had existed for quite some time," he said.
The fishing industry, and relatives of those who work in the industry, deserved to know the full capabilities of this system.
Another example of where the media and residents have been left in the dark is the cost of the Manly and Titans match, held in Gladstone in April 2018.
Despite multiple requests, the Gladstone Regional Council and the Queensland Government's Tourism Events Queensland have refused to say how much the game cost the council.