Can't see the wood or the trees

I read with interest the recent reference by CEO Peter Johnston to the Macedon Ranges Shire's "transparency and openness" ('Incorrect view', Letters, November 5, 2013).

I have for the last few months been trying to gain access to council documents relating to the acquisition by the council of the Daly Reserve in Gisborne (which originally formed part of the 'Eblana' estate).

Under the provisions of the Public Records Act (1973), these records should have been deposited in the Public Records Office Victoria where they would be catalogued and freely available to everyone. Instead, the council has failed to transfer records and has required me to lodge an FOI request. Despite many of the documents having to be retained by law, I am informed that council cannot locate the contract for the council's purchase of the Eblana estate, any documents relating to the purchase negotiations, or the contract and amount for which the Eblana homestead was subsequently sold. This apparent lack of documentary evidence calls into question the council's assertion that it is aware of the 'facts' surrounding the acquisition of the Daly Reserve. Given the foreseeable possibility of legal action arising from council's proposal for a childcare centre at Daly Reserve, I would have thought the council would be concerned at the likelihood that records have been destroyed or removed, and show at least some interest in investigating where they have gone.

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