It is still an open question whether the creation of an independent freedom of information/privacy office separate to the NSW Ombudsman is the best approach. The Premier in opposition maintained combining the two was the way to go but unscrambling things after a year seems premature.
Deirdre O'Donnell had this to say
As Peter says it has been a busy 12 months since the GIPA Act commenced. My reports to my committee have been one way to demonstrate my priorities and my office’s achievements over that time. As Mr Brady correctly observes, at this stage we have only published two review decisions. Not unexpectedly with the commencement of the new legislation, there has been strong interest in accessing government information. The volume of complaints and review requests has been a challenge for our office, but with the recruitment of additional staff, we are well on track to dealing not only with the outstanding reviews, but to begin regular publication of our decisions.
The public interest test is of course central to the new proactive regime. We have so far published three guidelines that deal with aspects of this test. Guidelines 1 and 3 specifically assist local councils to apply the public interest test in relation to publication on the internet of personal or sensitive information. We have chosen to take a targeted approach with guidelines to address problems that risk impeding the achievement of the objects of GIPA. In providing guidelines, we want to assist agencies but not to prescribe their decision-making. To this end, we have produced e-learning material for agencies and the public and a fact sheet explaining in general terms how the public interest test works. We have also made a submission to the ADT that may be of interest.
For now, thanks to Peter Timmins, Doyle Brady and others who continue to contribute to vigorous discussion about open government in NSW. I’m always happy to meet with fellow right to information supporters, so any time Mr Brady or anyone else would like to drop into our office for a constructive chat over cup of tea, and perhaps a biscuit, please let me know.