Search This Blog

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Stick to FOI reform, Rudd urged"

Missed this in The Australian on Monday- but yes, it's what I and others have been saying for a l....o...o...n..g time now. We will be all ears at the Australia's Right to Know Conference in Sydney next Tuesday when Minister Faulkner unveils the Government's second phase Freedom of Information reforms.

Unhappily he won't have much good news to tell us about phase one- Federal Parliament adjourns today or tomorrow with the Freedom of Information (Removal of Conclusive Certificates and Other Measures) Bill still to get back on the action list, having been tabled last November. No-one on any side of politics seems to be opposed (although all the submissions from outside government suggested changes and enhancements to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee, to no avail) and the Committee recommended on 10 March that the Senate pass the Bill. Parliament won't be back now until Budget week in mid-May, and of course there will be many competing priorities, as no doubt the Government would tell us is the explanation for slow progress to date.

This reform should have been low hanging fruit for a government committed to change and elected 16 months ago. Here is how the Parliamentary Library put phase one in perspective in the Bills Digest on 27 February (PDF 441KB):
"The removal of certificates is however a relatively minor and straightforward part of the bigger picture of FOI reform. A much greater challenge is to address the concerns that have been evident since the 1996 ALRC Open Government report which point to the legalistic interpretation of some of the exemption provisions, the time delays and the expense of FOI requests."

Yes, and of course, there is then that even tougher one- the culture change issue.

No comments:

Post a comment