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Monday, May 17, 2010

NSW Information Commissioner set to lead the revolution

Ben Rushton SMH
Best wishes for an exciting journey. NSW Information Commissioner Deirdre O' Donnell, a week into the job, told Matthew Moore of the Sydney Morning Herald  she is ready for the challenge of leading from the front on implementation of the GIPA act, to commence on 1 July.
'The role of champion is really what most excites me. This is a revolution and it needs a champion, someone visibly proactive, engaged and engaging who will be out there to show this thing really matters and things will change....O'Donnell ...... concedes that, as part of the revolution she is planning, it is inevitable some people may get hurt as they are forced to change well-established patterns of behaviour. Her fundamental challenge, she says, is to change the culture of the public service, to make it far more open. To help do that she is drawn to the idea of varying the performance agreements of the heads of department to include compliance with the new laws as one of the measures by which they are judged. ''It focuses the mind wonderfully, you really internalise it, you really give it your attention,'' she says of the proposal."
Shades of former Premier Nathan Rees who pushed the legislation through and now watches from the backbench, who told Parliament  almost a year ago the new legislation would
"turn the freedom of information regime on its head. The bills establish a framework to actively promote the release of Government information and they offer the opportunity for a fresh start...These bills constitute a fundamental freedom of information revolution... New South Wales will gain the nation's best freedom of information laws. The public's right to know must come first. As well as comprehensively responding to the Ombudsman's report, they pick up reforms arising from the Solomon review in Queensland and recently proposed changes to Commonwealth legislation. The bills mark a paradigm shift. Our public sector must embrace openness and transparency and governments must forever relinquish their habitual instinct to control information. This is generational change and reform that is long overdue."
 All aboard...

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