PATI-cake, PATI-cake… Kerpow!

Sorry, I was just watching The Road To Hong Kong…

Well, the long awaited PATI legislation is moving forward, with drafts available at http://www.gov.bm (here and here). I know that the PATI legislation has been in development continuously since former Premier Alex Scott initiated the project publicly. Admittedly it hasn’t always been on the front burner of political priorities, and the process of adapting the concept to a small island state was not as easy as one may at first think, but it looks like it is certainly moving forward again.

I still need to read over the draft documents, and compare them with the initial PATI documents. However some more intrepid folk have alread skimmed through them and raised a number of criticisms. Namely there seems to be some criticism of the PATI process being under the control of the Premier through the Cabinet Office, that the legislation will only be implemented two to three years from its commencement, and that it will not apply to information created after the date it is enacted.

I don’t have a problem with the first two bits myself. It makes sense to me that PATI, like the Sustainable Development project, should be part of the Cabinet Office and Central Policy Unit. Afterall, without creating a Ministry of Information (cue Orwellian themes…), where else would people expect it to be placed? Perhaps the Ombudsman’s office, but I think the Cabinet Office is the more natural home. As for the two to three year period, I think that is a fair estimation of how long it will take for the various government ministries and departments to be smoothly incorporated into PATI.

I don’t understand the reason for PATI only applying to information created following the enactment of PATI. It certainly leaves the government open to rumour-mongering and undermines the credibility of PATI. At best I can understand if records prior to that date are not easily accessible due to inconsistent bureaucratic filing processes, but they should still not be unavailable. Rather they should say that information dating from before the enactment of PATI may take slightly longer to process than more recent information. As stated above, I haven’t read over the new PATI documents yet, so perhaps they will satisfactorily answer my concern.

I reccommend readers take the time to carefully analyse the PATI documents and I look forward to whatever constructive criticism people are able to add.

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8 thoughts on “PATI-cake, PATI-cake… Kerpow!

  1. Jon, you were right in your first suggestion. The PATI system should be under the auspices of the Ombudsman. Failing that, the Auditor General.

    With all of the secret actions taken by the Premier and other cabinet colleagues, placing the so-called public access under their control is laughable at best, terrifying at worst.

    Why it can’t be done as it has been in the UK escapes me. None of the restrictions cited in our PATI legislation apply there. The UK is releasing documents more than 60 years old, for crissakes.

    You are far too trusting of politicians to believe that something as important as information in the public interest should be entrusted to their control.

  2. Why would the more natural home for PATI be the Cabinet? Seems about as unnatural as possible if you ask me. This should be administered by the Ombudsman or another impartial 3rd party.

  3. So the proposed PATI legislation will be under the auspices of Cabinet. Government want to have control of the Police. The AG is a political appointment. This has all the hallmarks of a a totaliarian state. Does anyone realize this is 2009?
    The Government is controlled by a 1960″s mentality by one person with a personal mission. Bermuda had/has so much opportunity only to be destroyed by a person with a vendetta. Back to the Plantation.

  4. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Bermuda: PATI Pending

  5. I can’t say I agree that PATI should fall under the jurisdiction of the Premier or in fact any member of the cabinet.

    Quite honestly I don’t trust any of them, I don’t trust any politician to control the release of information that may or may not be damaging to them. I want an independent office and the ombudsman is one of the best suggestions I’ve heard.

    I also disagree that it should take 2-3 years to implement this legislation. I would give 1 year. Thats all. Can anybody tell me what they need the 2-3 years for? As far as I can tell its only purpose is to ensure that Dr. Brown never feels the effects of actual public scrutiny.

    As for the legislation not applying to information created before it’s passage… Where does one even begin to explain why that is complete utter nonsense!? If our government has nothing to hide then why refuse to release that information?

  6. First, I’ve got to say that PATI should not be under the control of the Premier (or anyone in Cabinet for that matter). It should be under the control of the Auditor General or some other third party that is independent of the very politicians the law supposedly applies to.

    Secondly, the absolute exemption for Cabinet documents is simply unjustified and unjustifiable.

    Thirdly, the exemption for documents created before the effective date of the act effectively says “we’re going to implement freedom of information legislation but we’re structuring it so it won’t apply to anything that happened on our watch”. It’s pretty at best.

  7. it’s the brown dictatorship, now that hes locked up the Auditor ,shut down the Mid-Ocean News,fired critics,threatened dissenters ,even the marchers have given up ,Castro,Stalin and Hitler would be proud of him

  8. Pingback: PATI Feedback « "Catch a fire"

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