Trevor Watts.
Trevor Watts. Tom Gillespie

Toowoomba MP calls for transparency on data releases

TOOWOOMBA North MP Trevor Watts has used the debate on press freedom to call for greater transparency around Queensland's prison system.

The opposition corrections spokesman, who was asked about the media-wide Right to Know campaign that was launched this week, said state government documents were overly-redacted by bureaucrats.

"Some of the redacting that we've seen from the Labor Government here in Queensland is shameful," Mr Watts said.

"There are certain things around our prison systems, that the information as to exactly what's going on by who, when and how, would be helpful in correcting the problem.

"We want to see fewer people incarcerated and better rehabilitation. A bit of openness would be useful."

Mr Watts said even when documents and data were released to the public, it was often hard to read.

"One of the pieces of information we've been looking for some time is around the cost of each individual prison system and the cost per person and also staffing numbers," he said.

"Some of this data is available, but some of it is amalgamated and put together in ways that are not helpful for you to analyse the situation."

Mr Watts said redactions and denial of information should only be enforced if it revealed the identities of victims or children.

"There will be times when things need to be classified, whether it's to protect someone's identity or it needs to be in the greater interests of the community, but they should be rare," he said.

"From a state perspective, protecting the identities of the innocents is something we should rightly redact - it's not necessary for a story or the truth of a situation."

The Right to Know Coalition, made up of the nation's largest media outlets, started campaigning the government for reforms on defamation, freedom of information and whistleblower protection.



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