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Friday, February 26, 2010

McMillan an outstanding choice for Information Commissioner

The Commonwealth Ombudsman Professor John McMillan has been appointed Information Commissioner Designate. This is an outstanding choice and evidences the Government's seriousness of intent in this field. McMillan will bring stature, knowledge, expertise and experience to the position and will be on the job getting things moving from 8 March, before legislation creating the position passes Parliament. The process to find a permanent appointee to the equivalent position in NSW, created by legislation passed eight months ago must be getting close to finalisation, having started last September. Let's hope the state government follows the Commonwealth lead with an appointment of someone with similar standing, respect and credentials as McMillan.

The following are extracts from a tribute in the Canberra Times on 26 January this year after McMillan was awarded an AO in the Australia Day Honours.

"Lawman praised for his integrity"
Commonwealth Ombudsman John McMillan accepts that sometimes his role could more accurately be described as a professional thorn in the Government's side.
As the nation's watchdog responsible for overseeing all government agencies, Professor McMillan is the final word on unworkable policy, bureaucratic ineptitude, and administrative bungles which plague an estimated 45,000 frustrated Australians who make official complaints to his office each year.
His constant stream of reports and investigations are highly critical, fiercely independent and often difficult reading for ministers involved.
Most recently, he has condemned the Rudd Government for its unwillingness to process Freedom of Information requests despite its mantra of open accountability...
He describes the Commonwealth Ombudsman's office as providing invaluable "bottom-up" analysis of the health of federal administration.
"The Government often does its own top-down analysis, but to look at individual complaints often shows how the systems works from the bottom up"...
Professor McMillan was first appointed in 2003 for a five-year term under the Howard government and was reappointed for another five-year term by the Rudd Government.
Chosen for his background in public-interest advocacy, Professor McMillan's experience ranges from being a founding member of the Australian Institute of Administrative Law and the Freedom of Information Campaign Committee, to being convener of the Braddon Resident's Action Group and helping save Northbourne Oval.
He was also the Commonwealth Ombudsman's principal investigation officer in 1979 with an academic background which includes being a professor of law and alumni chairman in administrative law at the Australian National University during the 1990s, as well as a member of the board of the faculties and deputy dean of students. He won the chancellor's medal for distinguished contribution to the ANU, 2004, as well as the vice-chancellor's award for excellence in teaching in 1995.

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