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Saturday, November 22, 2008

FOI review in Tasmania to first base

The Tasmanian Government has the review of the Freedom of Information Act and the Protected Disclosures( whistleblowers) Act underway today with an invitation to the public to comment on how the legislation has been working and how it could be improved.

In an approach that contrasts with the NSW Ombudsman's Discussion Paper and its 139 questions, many on complex technical legal issues, the Tasmanian review poses four "simple" questions:
  • Is the Freedom of Information Act adequate to ensure a proper degree of transparency in State and Local Government processes?
  • Are the exemptions in the Act appropriate, should they be reduced or expanded?
  • Are the timelines in the Act for responding to requests for information appropriate?
  • Are the mechanisms for reviewing FOI decisions adequate?
On Protected Disclosures, just two, whether the Act:
  • adequately encourages and facilitates disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies; and
  • appropriately protects whistleblowers against detrimental actions.
Submissions on both reviews close 13 February 2009.

FOI more fitting the Google age is in the frame: Attorney General Lara Giddings said
“The review will examine whether the Act provides sufficient access to information and flexibility to cover new technologies and ways of communicating....“Eighty five percent of homes now have access to the internet and email, most government business relies on a computer system, and a rapidly increasing amount of government information is received and stored electronically with no paper file generated. Dealing with the rate of change is one of the challenges we hope to address the review."

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