Published: 17 November 2023

The Association of Information Access Commissioners (AIAC) met in Perth on 3 November 2023 for its second biannual meeting, hosted by the Office of the Information Commissioner, Western Australia.

The AIAC is comprised of independent information commissioners and ombudsmen of Australia and New Zealand who have oversight responsibilities for access to government information laws under their respective state and national jurisdictions.

Common themes and issues that emerged from the AIAC’s discussions were:

  • The right to information is integral to the universal human right of freedom of expression and also essential to the exercise of many other well-recognised universal human rights.
  • The right to government-held information is essential to building public trust that government operates with integrity, accountability and transparency.
  • Society operates most effectively when government is open with the information it holds so that citizens can better understand public policy and decision making and thereby more effectively hold government to account.
  • An informed citizenry can also better weigh up competing opinions and sources of information.

AIAC members call upon all governments to appropriately respect and resource the right to information.

Collectively members also recognise many contemporary challenges and risks to information access that can jeopardise trust in government and undermine our democratic freedoms and way of life. In the digital information age, robust information governance and reliable government information are now more important than ever.

Challenges include providing appropriate transparency and reviewability for automated decisions or decisions that involve the use of other modern technology. There are also heightened risks of misinformation and disinformation, particularly where access to government information is inadequate.

Finally, members observe that the right to access government-held information encompasses governments being proactive with the release of non-sensitive information as well as responding in a timely way, with integrity and openness, to requests for access to more sensitive information.

This communique is endorsed by:

New Zealand

Peter Boshier, Chief Ombudsman

Emma Leach, Senior Assistant Ombudsman

CommonwealthAngelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner
Australian Capital TerritoryIain Anderson, ACT Ombudsman
New South WalesElizabeth Tydd, CEO and Information Commissioner
Sonia Minutillo, Director, Investigation and Reporting (Acting Privacy Commissioner)
QueenslandStephanie Winson, Acting Information Commissioner
Anna Rickard, Acting Right to Information Commissioner
VictoriaJoanne Kummrow, Public Access Deputy Commissioner
South AustraliaWayne Lines, Ombudsman
TasmaniaRichard Connock, Ombudsman
Western AustraliaCatherine Fletcher, Information Commissioner
Northern TerritoryBrenda Monaghan, Deputy Ombudsman/Deputy Information Commissioner