A similar exercise carried out by FOI Solutions Nick Bastosm cost the City of Melbourne over $60,000 back in 2000. It would have cost them $1.50.
All other jurisdictions provide access to this information., Sate Federal and Local Councils. The requirement relied on by Mr Bastkos and the City of Stonnington to keep the ballot papers sfae and secure referes to the location of storage not the information itself. Mr Baskos is looking at securing a send slice of the FOI pie with ratepayers picking up the bill
VACT ruling 2000
Herald Sun Article. 6 May 2015
Stonnington Council heading to VCAT over election countback that saw Tini Athanasopoulos elected
- Stonnington Leader
- May 06, 2015
THE countback that saw Tini Athanasopoulos elected to Prahran Greens MP Sam Hibbins’ spot on Stonnington Council has sparked a freedom of information war.South Yarra resident and electoral reform activist Anthony van der Craats is fighting the council’s refusal to release the preference data used to elect Cr Athanasopoulos to South Ward.
Accusing the council of “an abuse of process”, Mr van der Craats argued the information should be made public “in the interests of openness and transparency of local government”.
The alternative, he said, was “like going to the supermarket and buying a trolley of goods and not knowing if the bill at the end is correct”.
Mr van der Craats won a similar FOI case against Melbourne City Council in 2000, when the tribunal’s then deputy president Michael Macnamara ordered the council to release a data file of all ballots recorded in its 1999 election.
Mr Macnamara rejected the council’s argument that the information sought was exempt under the FOI Act.
Stonnington councillors are elected via proportional representation. When one resigns — such as Mr Hibbins following November’s state election — residents don’t vote again, with the departing councillor’s preferences instead distributed among the other candidates from the previous election, which was in 2012.
Stonnington Council announced Cr Athanasopoulos’s election on February 2, after the countback was held on January 30.
Mr van der Craats called for a review of the counting system used in local council elections, which he dubbed “flawed and outdated”.
“It (the countback system) isn’t proportional and it excludes a large number of voters, so the results don’t reflect voter sentiment,” Mr van der Craats said.
He argued that “anomalies particularly show up under the recount system”, saying every vote cast should be looked at instead of just redistributing preferences attached to votes for Mr Hibbins.
Stonnington Council chief executive Warren Roberts said the council was legislatively required to keep electoral records, including preference data, in “safe and secret storage” for four years.
“Accordingly, the City of Stonnington is following those regulations,” Mr Roberts said.
Mr van der Craats will dispute this reading of the local government regulations at VCAT.
The matter is listed for a directions hearing at the tribunal on May 18.