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Monday, November 01, 2010

Australian Information Commissioner launches forth

Professor John McMillan at the launch of the Office of Australian Information Commissioner:
"The OAIC fills a major gap in the system. We will champion open government, provide advice and assistance to the public and promote better information management by government. Our Office will have a comprehensive range of functions, including investigating complaints, reviewing agency FOI decisions, education and awareness, and reporting on compliance," Professor McMillan said. "We will also have a role in advising government on information policy and practice. This function is taken up in an Issues Paper Towards an Australian Government Information Policy, which was released today. The issues paper proposes and invites written comments on ten draft principles on open public sector information....

"The Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) has been revised to inject a much stronger pro-disclosure philosophy. A new Information Publication Scheme will require government agencies to publish far more information. Other changes include the simplification and narrowing of the range of exemptions from access, a new single public interest test weighted towards disclosure, and the abolition of application fees for accessing documents. "These changes reflect a broader policy change that acknowledges that information held by the Government is a national resource to be managed for public purposes. We look forward to ensuring that this policy shift becomes a reality for all Australians when they deal with Australian Government agencies", Professor McMillan said.

Comment: It is only Day One, but you wouldn't know anything has changed from a visit to the websites of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury and Centrelink to name three agencies still stipulating payment of the now abolished $30 application fee. Defence, Foreign Affairs, and Immigration to name three others, have updated to incorporate the changes to fees and charges.

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