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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

State secrecy laws should be under scrutiny as well

Secrecy provisions in state laws were outside the terms of reference of the ALRC review. I'm unclear what has happened in other states where there may have been an examination of the statute book, but in NSW review has been long promised- never delivered. In the new Right to Information era in Queensland, where there may have been a clean-out, Schedule 3 of the draft bill put on the table last week lists 16 acts with secrecy provisions that take precedence, including the wonderfully named Maintenance Act.

The Independent Audit of Free Speech Report last year (at 5.10) only managed to find 80 Federal acts and regulations with secrecy provisions against the ALRC's 166 and still counting, so it may have been also wide of the mark regarding the states where Western Australia (52), NSW and Victoria (both 45) and the ACT (33) topped the list.

All those with the glimmer of Freedom of Information reform in the eye should be following the Federal Government/ALRC lead to question why some secrecy dinosaurs from another age are necessary in an open society.

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