Update 14 January 2009: this Age article about Mekong on Swanston St in Melbourne is a perfect example of why every citizen deserves access to this information. I’ll never eat there again and have updated my review accordingly. The Victorian government opposes this openness. The stupidity of this policy is obvious, particularly as most other states have embraced openness and honest accountability. Here’s the kind of information WA citizens have access to.
Update 9 December 2008: the NSW name and shame website received more than 1 million hits in 5 months. And Brumby maintains this information is not in the public interest in Victoria. Brumby you are a coward, a liar and a loser.
Update 13 October 2008: The Australian newspaper published an article on this topic over the weekend that states:
It is unethical for local and state governments to use our money to pay for food safety monitoring yet deny us the information about their findings. This is a national issue that goes beyond pointless political boundaries. Governments need to work together to provide safe food standards and more, not less, information for the public.
Update 17 September 2008: I’ve been reading more about the issue of dodgy food premises and the reluctance of local councils to effectively manage their responsibility to monitor and prosecute. They are failing the public and public health is being neglected. Read an excellent post from a year ago from the Republic of Moreland.
Original post: In WA and NSW the state governments have introduced official information campaigns that release the results of food hygiene inspections in restaurants and other food service businesses. The government agencies the NSW Food Authority and the WA Environmental Health Directorate publish the names and addresses of businesses that have been penalised for breaching food health standards.
This is a fantastic service for consumers and provides great copy for the media. Why is this not available in Victoria? Choice magazine says the Victorian government has no plans to introduce a similar service, and according to the Age newspaper the government has recently confirmed this position. How can it be Labor policy in one state to publish this information for the benefit of citizens and consumers, yet be Labor party policy not to in another state?
The Melbourne City Council has information on CBD premises and also refuses to publish it. The Council is well known as an apology group for businesses that make profits at the expense of the rights of consumers, and this is a typical example. I hope they all go out to lunch (presumably at ratepayers’ expense) and get food poisoning.
This is one of many policy areas where the federal Rudd Labor government should be forcing the stubborn and parochial state premiers into making pragmatic uniform policy decisions across all the states. It has already worked in two states and the other states should be benefiting from the experience already developed in WA and NSW and implementing this as soon as possible.
As citizens and taxpayers we pay for the maintenance of food health standards. We paid for this information to be gathered. We own the information and we should decide how it is used. Consumers should demand that it be published. Reputable businesses should support this because it will help to further distinguish quality restaurants and food service businesses from poor quality competitors.