Commissioner Professor McMillan can take you back to his pre-FOI activist days, Dr David Solomon found FOI in his in-tray while working for Prime Minister Whitlam, AGS CEO Ian Govey's first job in AGD was with the task force developing legislation, and Alan Rose was a member of that group while at PM&C, and later president of the ALRC at the time of the Open Government report in the mid nineties.
(While on memory lane I was at the Australian Embassy in Washington from 1973 to 1976 when US experience with FOI, pre and post Watergate, was something Canberra wanted to know more about as it wrestled with the unknown beast.)
Alan Rose said the culture change recognised as necessary since 1982 is still to arrive.
He evidenced this with a number of examples of personal experience and drew attention to the refusal of access to plans claimed to justify a grant to a car manufacturer, and what was put to the government by lobbyists. Rose emphasised that the object advanced in the 1995 ALRC report that government information is a national resource must be taken seriously. Census material for example. More creative minds could do more with it. Real time access was essential. The closed period for government information should be reduced to something like five years to let our Bill Gates and Steve Jobs see what they could do to fully utilise government information for the benefit of all.
FOI Commissioner Dr Popple gave a generally positive account of how things are working-access was easier and cheaper, most agencies were doing reasonably well and "people are generally aware of their rights." (It turns out this is a "feeling" not based on anything more that frequent references in the media-I don't think government has done anything on the demand side for yonks.) However issues concerning delay and the OAIC model both require attention. The OAIC has received 4194 applications from agencies for extension of time, and 285 complaints and 872 review applications, all far in excess of what was anticipated.
Former Queensland Information Commissioner Julie Kinross provided a global perspective, noting in particular the rights focus clearly driving developments elsewhere, but barely heard here, and other forces at work promoting transparency including anti-corruption, environmental concerns, accountability and development assistance, and technology. Kinross highlighted the absence of any regional Asia Pacific right to information activity of the kind obvious in Europe, Latin America and other regions. Australia was well placed to play a role in this. (Why was I thinking about the OGP at this stage?)
Professor McMillan spoke of the broadening information agenda and the need for a new open government policy framework. Roxanne Missingham, the former Parliamentary Librarian now in a similar position at ANU provided reasons for some urgency in this citing the dramatic decline in government publications listed in the National Bibliographic Database, and the limited retention of history (including government policy documents over time) on the National Library's Pandora system. She gave a spirited account of why leaving agencies to their own devices in this area was a grave error. And gave short shrift to copyright laws created in another era that are holding us back.
As to me, I had 10 minutes for Leading Cases?
Stephanie Forgie and Michael McKinnon should know I was only joking.
My notes, should you be interested-and it's not a list of leading cases.
Leading cases ?