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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review of information access law in NSW grinds on, missed deadline notwithstanding

This post in March commented on the slow, closed door approach to review of open government legislation in NSW and elsewhere.

The NSW Parliament imposes deadlines but they pass... and pass.

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 and the Government Information (Information Commissioner) Act 2009 include a requirement for a statutory review to be undertaken by the Minister administering the act "as soon as possible after the period of 5 years from the date of assent to this Act" with a report to be tabled in each House of Parliament within 12 months after the end of the period of 5 years.

The review is to determine whether the policy objectives remain valid and whether the terms of the Acts remain appropriate for securing these objectives. 

The date of assent for both acts was 26 June 2009, the date of commencement 1 July 2010.

Five years after the date of assent takes us to 26 June 2014. A period of 12 months after the end of 5 years for the report to be tabled means the deadline was 26 June 2015.

Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch in a Question on Notice on 3 May 2016 asked the Attorney General "when the review would be completed." Attorney General Gabrielle Upton on 7 June answered (2944) "The review is currently being carried out and a report will be provided in due course." 

No report has been tabled as at 26 July 2016.

In May, in a welcome development the attorney general's department invited me and a few others to a roundtable, informing invitees that the department was interested in input into the review from outside government as most of the 80 submissions received had come from government agencies and local councils.  

Participants had no input into the agenda but a couple of hours chat ensued about the issues the department wanted to talk about-something at least.
Thirteen months and counting for a review report to be tabled isn't too bad when you look at deadlines listed by Justice as Reviews in Progress. The report on the review of the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 was due no later than June 2011 and for the Defamation Act 2005, October 2011.

One of these days.....

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