Hawke to Eye Australian FOI Act, Attorney General Says

2 November 2012

The Australian government Oct. 31 announced a review of the 1982 Freedom of Information Act.

The Attorney General named an experienced government official to conduct the inquiry, Allan Hawke.

Hawke’s background and the announcement are discussed in a posting by FOI blogger Peter Timmins.

The review is to explore whether the law continues to “provide an effective framework for access to government information.” The press release on the review prominently mentions the costs of the law.

A full review was called for when reforms were made in 2010. The particular goals of the inquiry are listed in the press release and in terms of reference.

Other Study Under Way

In a related development, Monash University journalism professor and FOI researcher John Lidberg has just partnered with five of the nine Information Commissioners and Ombudsmen in Australia “to conduct a comprehensive functionality assessment of Australia’s reformed 2.0 (push) FOI laws and the old 1.0 (pull) systems.”

“The project will start next year and one of the aims is to design a functionality/implementation assessment methodology that is replicable internationally,” he said, indicating he will post later details on his research blog.

Special Question in Queensland

A new consultation has been started in the state of Queensland on the topic of what ministers and public service executives should be told about applications to access government information.

The Office of the Information Commissioner has developed draft model protocols for Queensland government departments on reporting to ministers and senior executives on right to information (RTI) and information privacy (IP) applications.

“The goal of draft model protocols is to balance the need to protect the integrity of RTI and IP decisions and individuals’ privacy with the need for appropriate reporting to Ministers and senior executives.”

Public comment was requested.

“For background please see the consultation paper linked below. It was written and circulated to Departments as part of developing the draft protocol. For context, you may wish to read the Department of Transport and Main Roads Executive Consultation Policy which they have provided as an example of current practices.

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