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Australian Information Commissioner Act

The Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 (AIC Act) establishes the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). The AIC Act commenced on 1 November 2010. It provides for the appointment of the Australian Information Commissioner (Information Commissioner), the Privacy Commissioner and the Freedom of Information Commissioner (FOI Commissioner).

The AIC Act sets out the three functions of the OAIC:

The Information Commissioner is responsible for the information policy function. This requires the Information Commissioner to report to the Attorney-General on how public sector information is collected, used, disclosed, administered, stored and accessed.

The Information Commissioner also has formal responsibility for the FOI and privacy functions, and for exercising the powers conferred by the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 1988.

The FOI and the Privacy Commissioners can both exercise the FOI and privacy functions, and in practice are chiefly responsible for those areas. They cannot exercise the Information Commissioner function. The Information Commissioner can also delegate many of the FOI and privacy functions to other OAIC staff under s 25 of the AIC Act.

The Information Commissioner, as agency head, is responsible for reporting to government on the OAIC’s work. This can include reports on how the Government can, as part of its information management responsibilities:

  • be more open, accountable and transparent
  • make the information it holds accessible, discoverable and useable to the public
  • securely manage personal information
  • better manage the information it holds.

Part 4 of the AIC Act establishes the Information Advisory Committee to assist and advise the Information Commissioner in performing the information policy function.

The AIC Act is an important part of the Australian Government's broader FOI reforms.