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Friday, September 30, 2011

Information Advisory Committee appointments

Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O’Connor yesterday announced the following appointments to the Information Advisory Committee established under s 27 of the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010, to assist and advise the Australian Information Commissioner "in matters relating to the performance of the information commissioner functions."
  • The Hon Dr John Bannon AO, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Adelaide
  • Ms Anita Brown, Trade Marks Attorney, Philipps Ormonde Fitzpatrick
  • Ms Jenet Connell, Deputy Secretary, Department of Finance and Deregulation
  • Ms Stephanie Foster, Deputy Secretary, Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government
  • Ms Elizabeth Kelly, Deputy Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department
  • Ms Jill Lang, Consultant
  • Mr Peter Lewis, Executive Producer, Landline ABC News Brisbane
  • Ms Roxanne Missingham, Parliamentary Librarian, Parliamentary Library
  • Mr Alan Noble, Engineering Director, Google Sydney
  • Ms Kirstie Parker, Managing Editor, Koori Mail
  • Dr Ian Reinecke, Consultant, Director of Strategies and Solutions Group
  • Mr Edward Santow, Chief Executive Officer, Public Interest Advocacy Centre
  • Mr Michael Simpson, General Manager, Policy and Advocacy, Vision Australia
The commissioner Professor McMillan who will chair the committee welcomed the appointments: "The membership brings excellent experience and credentials in all aspects of information policy.."

I'm sure they will be a helpful bunch and wish them well. Some first thoughts:

No sign of any FOI "usual suspects" from civil society, academia, the law, the media, journalism or from within government (eg from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the agency with policy responsibility for FOI) who have been around this issue for years. This may be a needed fresh start to a new information world, but confirmation I lead a sheltered existence is that I've never met any of the appointees.

However Dr Bannon was Premier when South Australia introduced the FOI act in 1991 and this year was appointed Chair of the National Archives of Australia Advisory Council; Mr Santow and his organisation have plenty of FOI user experience; and Dr Reinecke wrote the 2009 report "Information policy and e-governance in the Australian Government" that led into Gov 2.0 initiatives.

While Mr Lewis and Ms Parker aren't names from the media or journalism prominent in public discussion and debate on information related issues, I'm sure they bring useful insights to the table. Ditto Ms Brown, Ms Lang and Mr Simpson.

And Mr Noble from Google no doubt knows the information management issues and solutions inside and out and must have been very happy to be asked.

With this first step to establish a federal advisory committee including some appointments from outside government, I'm reminded that none of the states have got this far as far as I'm aware.  

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