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Friday, February 12, 2016

No sign of the siege lifting

Attorney General Brandis told Senate Estimates this week that the government position on the future of the Office of Australian Information Commissioner has not changed. As Senator Brandis recounted the government announced in May 2014 that the office would be abolished; it has been made clear the Senate would not pass the bill to achieve this outcome; the governmernt has not brought the bill  (on the Senate Bills list since October 2014) on for a vote; the FOI functions of the office were allocated $1.7 million this financial year. As to where to from here:
"The circumstances are that the government has an intention, which it has declared, for reasons which it has explained, but that intention cannot be given effect to. So the arrangements continue as they are for the time being."
 The transcript for the hearing is at pages 44-49 in the Hansard.

When Senator Collins asked how this squared with the decision to join the Open Government Partnership and an accompanying announcement that the 'government is committed to openness as a basic principle of modern government,' Acting Australian Information Commissioner Pilgrim responded
My understanding is that the bill is still before the Senate or on the list and that is the status at the moment.
Senator JACINTA COLLINS: So if the next budget does not include further funding then you will be without funds?
Mr Pilgrim: That would be true. If there is no funding for the FOI function then we would not be able to undertake it.
Senator Brandis told the committee "that as an economy measure the office would be abolished and its functions consolidated."

The Siege of Leningrad lasted two and a half years. How long will this siege last?

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