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Monday, November 10, 2014

Experts in no doubt: no merit, and a backward step in move to abolish OAIC

In the course of its inquiry into the Freedom of Information Amendment (New Arrangements) Bill 2014 the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing in Sydney on Monday 10 November from 1.15pm - 5.00pm at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, 66 Goulburn Street.

I am down to appear, so too the Law Council of Australia, Open Australia Foundation, Public Interest Advocacy Center, Australian Press Council, Australia's Right to Know, Office of Australian Information Commissioner, and the Attorney General's Department. Submissions from OAF, PIAC, OAIC and me have been published so what others have to say is awaited with interest. 

As to published submissions twenty four organisations or individuals from outside government who reacted in time to the five days notice are virtually unanimous on the big question: 
The committee should recommend that the Senate vote against the bill. 
Those organisations and individuals are:

Transparency International Australia
Accountability Round Table   
Queensland Integrity Commissioner
Open Australia Foundation
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Australian Privacy Foundation
NSW Council for Civil Liberties
Liberty Victoria
Pirate Party Australia
Guardian Australia
Associate Professor Moira Paterson Monash University Faculty of Law Director, Graduate Studies; author of Freedom of Information and Privacy in Australia: Government and Information in the Modern State (LexisNexis, 2005) and FOI Editor of the Australian Administrative Law Service.
Dr Johan Lidberg, Monash University. Senior Lecturer in Journalism in the School of School of Media, Film and Journalism, who has undertaken international comparative research into FOI practical functionality for the last 13 years. 
Public Law and Policy Research Unit, The University of Adelaide. Submission written by Dr Gabrielle Appleby, Deputy Director of the Public Law and Policy Research Unit, Dr Judith Bannister, Senior Lecturer, Adelaide Law School and Anna Olijnyk, Lecturer, Adelaide Law School
Assistant Professor Bruce Baer Arnold, University of Canberra School of Law    
Craig Thomler, social media and Government 2.0 advocate and practitioner.
Megan Carter, Consultant with 33 years experience in this field in Australia and overseas.
George Samuel.
Andrew Donnellan.

And your blogger, Peter Timmins.

The Queensland and NSW information commissioners spoke in similar terms at a conference last Thursday. 

More on the submissions and the hearing to come.

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