Wednesday, March 29, 2023

An inquiry into freedom of information in Australia

Three weeks ago, Australia's Freedom of Information Commissioner - their equivalent of the Ombudsman - suddenly resigned, on the basis that the entire system was broken and he was unable to fix it. And now, the Australian Senate is holding an inquiry into the resignation, and the problems with Australia's Freedom of Information Act:

The Greens, Coalition and crossbench have teamed up to set up an inquiry into the freedom of information commissioner’s resignation over dysfunction and delays in the FOI system.

The FOI commissioner, Leo Hardiman, announced his resignation earlier in March citing his lack of powers to make changes necessary to improve the timeliness of reviews of FOI decisions.

On Tuesday the Senate voted to establish a legal and constitutional affairs references committee inquiry into the resignation, resourcing for FOI applications and reviews, and the possible “creation of a statutory time frame for completion of reviews”.

Naturally, the ALP - who in opposition had demanded greater transparency - opposed the move. Because government's gonna government.

Meanwhile, Aotearoa is still waiting for the review of the OIA the government promised in 2019, not to mention the fixing of the issues identified by the Law Commission back in 2012. They've refused even to review the unnecessary secrecy clauses they've passed. Despite its rhetoric, our Labour government is not interested in transparency in any way.