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Monday, April 22, 2013

Decade old SA cabinet documents published, in an unexciting first

The South Australian Government has pro-actively published selected 10 year old Cabinet documents. It's a positive policy step on from that taken by former premier and current High Commissioner in London Mike Rann in 2009 to limit application of the cabinet exemption to ten years. 

No-one seems to have got around in the meantime to amending the act. Policy is one thing but the SA FOI act (Schedule 1 Clause 1) in 2013 still stipulates the cabinet exemption is in force for 20 years after a document comes into existence.

As the Premier and Deputy Premier said the publication of the submissions is a first for SA.  It could of course go even further by publishing more relevant information, such as cabinet outcomes as in the ACT, and recent cabinet documents as in Queensland. (As could the Commonwealth, and the other states. And dare I ask, has anyone in Victoria brushed the cobwebs from the cabinet register required to be published by s 10 of the act?)

Also good to see the SA Government flag "further announcements in relation to the proactive disclosure of Government information after establishing a cross agency Govrnment accountability project" to be headed by the Deputy Premier. 

SA is years behind in this area with the FOI act requirement simply to publish information about structure and functions, the types of documents held, and policy documents as defined. The Commonwealth, Queensland, NSW and Tasmanian governments significantly expanded the publishing requirement in 2009-2010.


I'll leave it to the locals to discover any gems in the documents themselves.

This submission by then Minister for Administrative Services now Premier Jay Weatherill in 2002, noting the intention to draft a Freedom of Information Amendment Bill is, well, unexciting. It's the backdrop to this Bill if you are trying to connect the dots to changes at that time.

As Premier Mr Weatherill has the chance to deliver much more in a state well behind in the FOI reform stakes.

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