Commission wants officials to open up more
Wed, 25 Jul 2012 2:19p.m.
The Law Commission wants more official information to be publicly released without placing unnecessary burdens on the public service.
The commission has made 100-plus recommendations for law changes to achieve that goal. They include appointing someone to have statutory oversight of official information legislation, such as an information commissioner that Australia and the UK have or extending the role of the chief Government information officer in the Department of Internal Affairs.
The commission released its final report The Public's Right to Know: Review of the Official Information Legislation today, saying the 1980s Official Information Act (OIA) and Local Government Official Information Act have been overtaken by the information technology revolution.
The Government also expects the public service to be more open and transparent.
"Our challenge has been to identify ways in which the Acts can be improved, without putting unrealistic burdens on agencies," said Professor John Burrows, who led the review.
The commission recommends that there should be a new statutory duty on public agencies to take "reasonably practicable" steps to make official information publicly available.
Prof Burrows says public bodies should be doing more to routinely release useful information.
Progressively making more official information available will eventually save public money and agency time spent meeting one-off OIA requests, he says.
But the commission also recommends two new grounds for official information to be withheld: one to protect competitive or financial interests, and the other to protect information provided to a statutory investigation or inquiry.
Both would be subject to a "public interest test".
The commission says the test has been applied inconsistently and recommends its redrafting so it is not so easily overlooked.
It wants further work done on overhauling charges, which apply to some information requests but not others, and says the Ombudsmen should continue their role investigating complaints against agencies not releasing information when requested.
The Government will now consider the commission's report.
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25/07/2012 4:07:51 p.m.
Given this government has done more to stop the snout in trough actions of much public spending, I expect the government to support changes and make them law.We now have public disclosure of MP's expenses, we also have reductions in the perks that have built up over years of corrupt MP's.Oh wait, Labour will vote against any such changes as a matter of principal, or in other words they support under-hand, snout in the public trough actions!
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