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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hat tip to those involved in NSW GI Bill

The NSW Government Information (Public Access) Bill and related legislation only got to initial reading stage in the Legislative Assembly yesterday, with the Premier Nathan Rees (copy of the statement here) outlining the key features and government policy that underpins the changes. No other speakers and debate was adjourned. While my druthers, and I'm sure those of others who lodged submissions didn't all get a run, there have been changes to the Consultation Draft that generally improve an all-together good piece of legislation. The Premier and those who did the work deserve high praise for their efforts. The Premier was right to say the bills
"turn the freedom of information regime on its head. The bills establish a framework to actively promote the release of Government information and they offer the opportunity for a fresh start...These bills constitute a fundamental freedom of information revolution... New South Wales will gain the nation's best freedom of information laws. The public's right to know must come first. As well as comprehensively responding to the Ombudsman's report, they pick up reforms arising from the Solomon review in Queensland and recently proposed changes to Commonwealth legislation. The bills mark a paradigm shift. Our public sector must embrace openness and transparency and governments must forever relinquish their habitual instinct to control information. This is generational change and reform that is long overdue."
The Premier said the Privacy Commissioner and the Information Commissioner will be brought together in a single office once the NSW Law Reform Commission report on privacy legislation has been finalised. Local councils will be pleased that confusion over access rights concerning Section 12 of the Local Government Act and the FOI Act are to be no more- Section 12 is to be repealed and local council disclosure obligations (including a reworked 12 (1) now in Schedule 5) and public rights of access to other information are all contained in the GI Bill.

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