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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tasmania also sees the need to start again.

In contrast to the Federal Government's approach to reform in suggesting modifications to the 27 year old Freedom of Information Act, and putting out 130 pages of amendments for public comment,Tasmania today followed the lead of Queensland, and the NSW Ombudsman, with Attorney General Lara Giddings proposing that the existing complex and confusing Freedom of Information Act be scrapped and replaced by a right to information act. The Attorney General said (some of this has a familiar ring)
“The key proposal is a new approach to accessing information which encourages departments to ‘push’ information into the public arena rather than waiting for a request to ‘pull’ the information from the agency. “The aim is to be more open and reduce the traditional FOI approach to an option of last resort. “This will require significant cultural as well as legislative change within Government."..... The review is timely as it will also modernise our approach to FOI to better reflect the changing times in which we live and work, and the different ways in which we can access data and information using modern technology. “Over the life of the current Act we have moved from typing pools and stenographers to high speed internet, emails and digitisation of departmental records and information. “With improved information flow and increased community expectations around transparency, the old legislative framework is arguably no longer relevant or appropriate."
The Directions Paper outlining the proposals that have already had input from agencies and experts, and some useful international comparative information are here. Submissions close 8 May.It's a more publicly accessible process than what we have seen from Canberra.

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