Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

FOI swings into fourth decade with a spring in the step

Congratulations to the Open Australia Foundation for the launch today of the Right to Know
Freedom of Information application website intended to encourage and ease the way to seek access to non-personal information under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act. The site will also publish the paper trail between applicants and agencies and information released (or not as the case may be) as a result of the request.

Two of the key players, Matthew Landeur and Henare Deegan provide an overview of the initiative in this Youtube clip.

Markus Mannheim provides this coverage today in The Canberra Times.
(Update: and this from Stilgherrian in Crikey.)

This is an Australian adaptation of the UK MySociety Whatdotheyknow website, utilising open source software from Avaleteli and fits into a global picture described here last year by Toby McIntosh. This is the NZ version. In this first step the Australian tool is limited to Commonwealth ministers and agencies.

I've commented previously that at about 5000 requests for non-personal information in the last year (a significant increase) use of the FOI act for accountability or participation in government purposes at the national level is pathetically low. Right to Know may change this by removing some of the mystique. It's the first "demand side" initiative in decades.

Three of the requests during a pre-launch trial in recent weeks are from me.

Agencies already feeling under pressure may not appreciate this boost for the exercise of  information access rights. But as the Prime Minister remarked back in 2010, "let the sun shine in."


  1. @foicentric9:57 am

    I enjoyed being a prerelease tester on the new Right To Know site. Great work as usual from the Open Australia Foundation

  2. Thanks for your invaluable help and feedback during the pre-release Peter!