Search This Blog

Thursday, January 20, 2011

National Information Law Conference Canberra March 2011

Information law, a topic probably still not taught as such in many Australian law schools, has arrived with the National Information Law Conference organised by Australian Government Solicitors' to be held in Canberra in March. It's a good thing that the field now gets this recognition and the program of Australian and overseas speakers sounds interesting and attractive. But spread over three week days and at $1500 per head (plus $100 for the Conference Dinner) there are limits on who has the time and money to share the wisdom beyond the public services and others who can get three days off work, with an employer prepared to foot the bill (plus travel and accommodation for those who don't live there.) I don't expect there will be too many self employed, community activists, NGOs, journalists and academics on tight budgets (other than the couple listed to speak) or just interested citizens in attendance.

A big law conference like this and the yawning gap in the Australian conference calendar of non-legal events about  the lie of the land regarding public information, open government, information rights, relations between government and the populace, public participation etc demonstrates one of our problems in the FOI area: that it is seen too frequently inside government and out as lawyers' business.

The different beast we don't see here (yet, he says hopefully) is something along the lines of the one day 13th annual National Freedom of Information Day Conference  that will be held in Washington DC a week earlier than the Canberra gathering:
"Hosted each year by the First Amendment Center, the conference brings together open records advocates, government officials, judges, lawyers, librarians, journalists, educators and others to discuss timely issues related to transparency in government and public access to official records. The program is conducted in partnership with the American Library Association, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, OMB Watch,, and The National Security Archive at George Washington University; and in cooperation with the annual "Sunshine Week" initiative sponsored by the American Society of News Editors."
The conference is a full day of panel discussions and presentations-and here' the rub: there is no charge to attend.

We have a lot to learn about how to to build and sustain a community of interest around the  topic.

No comments:

Post a Comment