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Sunday, October 28, 2007

ALP details FOI and privacy reform plans

Federal Labor has released a policy statement "Government information: Restoring trust and integrity" outlining planned Freedom of Information changes, and initiatives on journalist shield laws, whistleblower protection and suppression orders.

The key FOI changes are to act on the Australian Law Reform Commission Open Government report of 1995 including rationalisation of exemptions, and review of FOI charges. Conclusive certificates will be abolished.

Labor will establish an Office of the Information Commissioner to include both FOI and the existing functions of the Privacy Commissioner. The FOI Commissioner will have a role in advocacy and support within government, but will also take over merit review of FOI determinations. Aggrieved applicants will be able to seek review for free, replacing the current process where such matters go to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Australian Law Reform Commission review of privacy laws will continue with Labor planning to ensure that its recommendations cover issues associated with consistency of rules in privacy and FOI laws concerning protection of, and access to personal information.

There is quite a bit of press coverage including these articles in The Australian and The Age and this editorial in The Advertiser.

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