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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What ever happened to...

In case you were wondering, as the country goes into wind down to the festive season and before summer torpor takes complete hold:

The NSW Information Commissioner

Applications for the advertised job to lead NSW into a new era, with a new open government act closed on 28 September. Not a drum roll since, with the Office's website variously describing the state of play as "the recruitment process is on target with the implementation plan to have a permanent commissioner appointment by November 2009", and that the Commissioner "will take up duties by the end of 2009." The Government Information (Information Commissioner) Act (Section 4) gives the NSW Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Ombudsman and the Police Integrity Commission a right of veto over the appointment and Parliament looks well and truly packed up for the year, if not the holiday season. The first Acting Commissioner Judge Taylor has been on leave since 9 November. Maureen Tangney Assistant Director General Policy and Legal, Department of Justice and Attorney General has been the Acting Information Commissioner (and Privacy Commissioner) since. Start date for the Government Information (Public Access) Act is still listed as "early 2010" but unlikely to be too early I venture.

NSW Law Reform Commission review of privacy laws

The Commission received this reference in April 2006, with terms of reference slightly extended and a related reference given in June 2009. The references contain no report date, and aren't even close to the record- 11 years in total including 4 when the report on
surveillance languished in the Attorney General's in-tray before being released, and rejected in its entirety. A report on one aspect of the current references, a cause of action for invasion of privacy, has been released. But as to the rest.....

Federal shield laws for journalists

The Evidence (Journalists' Privilege) Bill passed the House of Representatives in May, but has been on the Business List, without progressing, in the Senate since June 2009.

Federal whistleblowers' protection law

Parliamentary Committee (Dreyfus) Report tabled in February 2009; no formal Government response to the Report other than a commitment to introduce legislation in the life of this Parliament.

Transparency for political donations

The Federal Government's attempt to legislate to reduce the disclosure threshold to $1000 from the current $10000 plus has been stuck in the Senate since March, courtesy of the Opposition.

So a tick for the Government for trying on that one, and a couple of half ticks for getting its Freedom of Information Reform bills into Parliament at the death (but the Information Commissioner and other changes- described for two years as high priority- are way off, with a Senate Committee to inquire and report on the bills in March 2010) and for its phase one response to the Australian Law Reform Commission report on privacy, with legislation to be introduced next year.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:44 pm

    Thanks for the nice summary of the current state of play, or in the case of NSW, the state of no play.