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Monday, May 11, 2015

Victoria to rebrand FOI commissioner and extend powers.

In its first budget the Andrews government in Victoria transfers privacy regulation and the Freedom of Information Commissioner from Justice to the Premier's portfolio to be part of the Department of Premier and Cabinet Public Sector Integrity output. 

Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings in a Media Statement said
"The Budget also contains $15.9 million to establish and administer the Office of the Public Access Counsellor, which will support Victorians’ rights to access vital Government information previously hidden from view. The new, independent Office will maintain all existing powers of the Freedom Of Information Commissioner, and will gain the authority to review Departmental and Ministerial decisions, including those on the grounds of Cabinet-in-Confidence."
That $15.9 million is $16 million on page 92 of Budget Paper 3 and of course it's spread over four years.

The Counsellor will also set FOI professional standards currently set by the Attorney General.

Legislation will be necesssary to create the Office and confer powers. 

The Freedom of Information Commissioner's modest output measures are on page 309 of BP 3.

Here's what Labor said about this before last year's election “LABOR’S FOI CHANGES TO END NAPTHINE’S SECRET STATE”

The title 'Public Access Counsellor' is new here -  Illinois has the only one I could find.
Maybe someone's study tour included Chicago?

A comprehensive review of the Victorian FOI act - which shows all the signs of 1983 thinking - should be on the list of priorities but yet to hear anything along those lines.

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