MEDIA RELEASE: The Australian Information Commissioner will protect information rights and advance information policy
1 November 2010
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) was officially launched today by the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information (FOI).
The OAIC is headed by the Australian Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan. The Commissioner is supported by the Privacy Commissioner Mr Timothy Pilgrim and the new FOI Commissioner Dr James Popple.
Professor McMillan highlighted that the OAIC brings together, for the first time, functions relating to freedom of information with the existing functions of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and a new role relating to information policy.
"The OAIC fills a major gap in the system. We will champion open government, provide advice and assistance to the public and promote better information management by government. Our Office will have a comprehensive range of functions, including investigating complaints, reviewing agency FOI decisions, education and awareness, and reporting on compliance," Professor McMillan said.
"We will also have a role in advising government on information policy and practice. This function is taken up in an Issues Paper Towards an Australian Government Information Policy, which was released today. The issues paper proposes and invites written comments on ten draft principles on open public sector information.
Professor McMillan noted that the launch of the Office coincides with the commencement of the most significant reform of freedom of information laws in two decades.
"The Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) has been revised to inject a much stronger pro-disclosure philosophy. A new Information Publication Scheme will require government agencies to publish far more information. Other changes include the simplification and narrowing of the range of exemptions from access, a new single public interest test weighted towards disclosure, and the abolition of application fees for accessing documents.
"These changes reflect a broader policy change that acknowledges that information held by the Government is a national resource to be managed for public purposes. We look forward to ensuring that this policy shift becomes a reality for all Australians when they deal with Australian Government agencies", Professor McMillan said.
More information about the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner can be found at www.oaic.gov.au. The Issues Paper Towards an Australian Government Information Policy can be found at www.oaic.gov.au/publications/papers.html.
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