Professor John McMillan
Australian Information Commissioner
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner Issues Paper
GPO Box 2999
Canberra ACT 2601

Dear Professor McMillan,

Towards an Australian Government Information Policy: Issues Papaer 1

Thank you for your invitation to the Law Council of Australia to comment on the matters raised in Issues Paper 1, Towards an Australian Government Information Policy (the Issues Paper).

The Law Council supports the proposed ten draft principles for Open Public Sector Information (the Draft Principles), and would be pleased to see their adoption in the Australian Government information policy.

The Law Council suggests that the Draft Principles be amended to include a robust process of review and appeal in relation to complaints. The Law Council considers an additional bullet point should be included in Draft Principle 6: Transparent Complaints Processes (on page 57 of the Issues Paper) noting that a transparent complaints procedure will also "provide and explain internal review and external appeal processes".

The Law Council also notes that the most difficult issues in this area arise where information is classified or politically sensitive. The Issues Paper does not address the handling of this kind of information. However, the Law Council looks forward to an Australian Government response to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC’s) Secrecy Laws and Open Government in Australia 2010 report in the near future. It notes that the ALRC there recommended the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner should take an active role in developing a culture of effective handling of this kind of information.

The Law Council would be pleased for the opportunity to provide further contributions to the development of the Draft Principles and toward the development of the Australian Government’s information management policies.

Yours sincerely,

Alexander Ward

1 March 2011

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