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Friday, June 08, 2012

ACT Assembly moving on whistleblower reform, FOI changes still to come

The Canberra Times report on the introduction of the Public Interest Disclosure Bill in the local assembly yesterday includes a tick from Professor A.J Brown-always a good sign - who like many is still hopeful despite missed deadlines that the Federal government will come good finally after promised deadlines for action last year came and went.

A Sydney Morning Herald editorial earlier in the week, Raising our voices for openness noted the dithering  in Canberra, on the big hill at least, while pointing to evidence that a public mindshift is underway with four in five Australians now believing whistleblowers should be free to reveal wrongdoing and to take concerns to the media, without fear of workplace retribution.

(Update:See ACT Hansard and and the exposure draft in March.)
I notice that while I was away in March the ACT Assembly resumed debate on the Freedom of Information Amendment Bill.

The Greens aren't happy with what is on offer, as explained by Mr Rattenbury in a well researched speech that examined and drew from reforms elsewhere .
The long and the short of it is that the Greens do not believe we should simply be following the commonwealth model and that we need to do more if we are to live up to our obligation to the citizens that we represent. We recognise that there are perhaps some practical advantages for us in simply adopting the commonwealth scheme. That said, we believe those advantages are outweighed by having a scheme that better achieves the aims that freedom of information laws have always had and better ensures that government information is accessible to the public.....
It is worth making the point that, whilst the government under the leadership of the current Chief Minister have gone to considerable lengths to undertake to be open and accountable and be a leader in government openness, they have proposed what is probably the least ambitious of any of the recent reforms when it comes to freedom of information....
The government's bill is certainly an improvement on what we currently have. However,.. it is not the best scheme available to us and .. further changes can and should be made. The changes that have occurred in other jurisdictions over the last few years have been significant and it is disappointing that a government that has repeatedly said that it wants to lead the field in openness and transparency has proposed changes that are significantly behind the leaders.
Attorney General Corbell batted criticisms away. Debate was adjourned until the next sittings.

1 comment:

  1. Commissioner Steve Sedgwick is a abusing his powers and covering up whistleblwer complaints