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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fresh thinking in Queensland about transparency in government

Maybe this is catching. The new Premier of Queensland, after her first Cabinet meeting, has announced an independent review of the Freedom of Information Act to be conducted by a three member panel, chaired by David Solomon, former Chairman of the Electoral and Administrative Review Committee (and a distinguished journalist to boot).

Premier Bligh said she wanted to provide the public with greater accessibility to information and greater transparency:
"It is now 15 years since Queensland saw its first freedom of information laws," Ms Bligh said. "Freedom of information was introduced in Queensland at a time when the worldwide web didn't exist, when emails were a completely unknown phenomenon and when text messages were not part of our lives."
The Premier said a culture had developed where information that should be released was being kept hidden, and suggested many documents looked at by Cabinet could and should be put into the public arena.

The review panel will include the former head of the Premier's Department, Simone Webb, and Dominic McGann, a partner at the law firm McCullough Robertson.

A discussion paper is to be issued in January.

This fresh approach (see our blog below about the transparency record of Premier Bligh's predecessor) follows a similar announcement within days of assuming office by the Victorian Premier, John Brumby.

Good stuff.

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