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Friday, December 01, 2006

FOI in Australia: 24 years old, needs health tonic

1 December is the 24th anniversary of the commencement of the Commonwealth FOI Act. This extract from the first annual report tabled by the then Attorney General Gareth Evans,is a reminder of the 10 year struggle that took place following the 1972 Whitlam government commitment to introduce FOI legislation, and of the philosophy underpinning the Act (paragraph 1.2.1.):
  • when government is more open to public scrutiny it becomes more accountable
  • if people are adequately informed and have access to information, there is likely to be more public participation in the policy-making process and in government itself
  • groups and individuals who are affected by government decisions should know the criteria applied in making those decisions
  • every individual has a right:

    - to know what information is held in government records about him or her personally subject to certain exemptions to protect essential public interests

    - to inspect files held about or relating to him or her

    - to have inaccurate material on file corrected.

Its been quite a while since we've heard any ringing endorsement of these values from our political leaders.

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