Search This Blog

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Look to the Budget for the white flag or further warfare in the battle to abolish the OAIC

 In the absence of any statement beforehand, the Budget on Tuesday will next indicate whether the government intends to maintain the position that it wants to legislate the Office of Australian Information Commissioner out of existence. 

The Freedom of Information Act Amendment (New Arrangements) Bill, before the Senate since October 2014 but not brought on for a vote is not among the bills reintroduced during the two days parliament met in April. 

The bill still gets a mention on Page 31 of the Senate list of Bills in the lapsed due to prorogation of the last session category.

As at COB on 19 July eight bills were introduced or reintroduced into the House of Representatives and 59 in the Senate.

Most, introduced by Labor and The Greens should be on a wish list instead, given Budget week is the only sitting before the PM says we are off to the polls. 

This includes Senator Ludwig's Private Member's Freedom of Information (Requests and Reasons) Bill, a bill opposed by the government and thus with no prospects of passage in this parliament at least, but Labor senators canvassed its benefits during debate on FOI.

Senator Wong asked for an explanation from the Attorney General why a question on notice to the Prime Minister about the government's performance on freedom of information remained unanswered three months later. The senator didn't get much of answer other than the Attorney General said a request to him in the same terms was complex, sought "very detailed data" over a two year period and the three months included the summer break... Hmm.

In debate that followed Senator Wong and Senator Ludwig slammed the government's record on transparency and freedom of information with Senator Ludwig making what amounts to a big call given 34 years of history:
 "Senator Brandis presides over the worst administration of FOI that this country has ever seen.."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bill to abolish OAIC: gone or like a phoenix, ready to rise again?

An entry in today's Senate Bills List- there are over 200 bills in the 'lapsed' category as the new session of parliament kicks off but let's hope common sense, the common good and the Prime Minister's endorsement of the goals of the Open Government Partnership mean this is the last we'll hear of this one:

Freedom of Information Amendment (New Arrangements) Bill 2014
Amends the: Freedom of Information Act 1982 to provide for: the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have sole jurisdiction for external merits review of freedom of information (FOI) decisions; the Attorney-General to be responsible for FOI guidelines, collection of FOI statistics and the annual report on the operation of the Act; and the Ombudsman to have sole responsibility for the investigation of FOI complaints; and Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 and Privacy Act 1988 to provide for an Australian Privacy Commissioner as an independent statutory officer holder within the Australian Human Rights Commission. Also repeals the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 to abolish the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner; and makes consequential amendments to 22 Acts.
House of Representatives:Intro. 2/10/14; Passed 28/10/14
CID amendments: 2 Govt/passed.
Senate: Intro. 30/10/14; 2nd reading adjourned 30/10/14.
Reference (SBC report 14/14): Provisions of bill referred to Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee 30/10/14; report tabled 25/11/14 

[Lapsed due to prorogation of first session of 44th Parliament17/4/16]