The Newcastle East Residents Group has some words of advice for those contemplating using the state's freedom of information laws to find out what is going on in their community - it takes time and it costs.
The group has submitted more than 20 applications to multiple government agencies and the City of Newcastle in recent years seeking details of various aspects of the Newcastle 500.
The Supercars event was thrust upon the Newcastle East community in 2016 with no consultation.
The resident's group has used GIPA to challenge official figures regarding attendance numbers and the event's economic impact.
Almost all of the group's applications have been met with resistance.
Most have have cost several hundred dollars and several have ended up in NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
But, despite the barriers, the group has had some hard-fought victories.
In July 2018 the group received information that challenged the bumper crowd figures quoted for the 2017 event.
Supercars announced a total attendance figure of 192,242 for the event, which included 20,500 domestic and international visitors.
But Destination NSW crowd numbers obtained by the group using GIPA questioned the methodology used to arrive at the totals.
The figures obtained by GIPA revealed Supercars multiplied by three many categories of tickets, including 7996 issued to residents and 7633 for sponsors, without knowing whether these people attended the event on all three days, if at all.
The GIPA documents also showed that Destination NSW struggled to obtain meaningful attendance figures from Supercars.
Residents group member Christine Everingham said the group's experiences highlighted problems not only with the flow of accurate information to the public but also between government departments.
"So why don't they want us to know? The main reason I think is they want to hide how much public money they are spending; government bodies don't do cost/benefit anymore, just economic impact where costs actually count as benefits being 'injected' into the economy to 'turbocharge' it," she said.
Ms Everingham said the most important document obtained by the group was the annexure of the services deed, which revealed ongoing services that council had to provide for at least five years.
"There was a confidentiality clause in the deed that specified none of the elected councillors were to be told the deed even existed. How can you have accountability when you don't have information," she said.
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Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson has also used GIPA to uncover information about aspects of the mining industry in the Upper Hunter.
In one case she proved there was no record of telephone conversations between the Department of Planning and Glencore regarding the public exhibition process for the company's Mod 4 open cut project near Singleton.
When challenged, the department conceded it had provided the advice on the matter.
A subsequent investigation by NSW State Archives and Records found the department had breached the State Records Act 1998.
The department has since reviewed its records policy and management approach and appointed a director of records policy and compliance.
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