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Report 40 - Open Government: a review of the federal Freedom of Information Act 1982 1995

Administrative Review Council report

Administrative law
Publication date

Open Government: a review of the federal Freedom of Information Act 1982, 1995

Summary of the report

The report was a collaborative effort between the Council and the Australian Law Reform Commission. It was transmitted to the Government in early 1996, and was tabled in the Parliament on 24 January 1996.

The report contains 106 recommendations, designed to give full effect to the Australian people's right of access to government-held information. In particular, recommendations are made to ensure that the Freedom of Information Act 1982 is interpreted in a way that gives proper effect to its objectives.

For example, the report contains a recommendation that there should be a Freedom of Information Commissioner to monitor the administration of the Act. Some of the recommendations concern the application of the exemption provisions of the Act. They clarify the grounds on which access to a document can reasonably be denied, and include some guidance on how to apply the public interest considerations.

Response to the report

The Council understands that a number of the recommendations in its report have been taken into account in the development of relevant Government policy. In particular, the recommendations in chapter 15 of the report, relating to the private sector, are relevant to the Government's decision to develop 'light-touch' national data protection legislation, to strengthen self-regulatory privacy protection in the private sector.

Other recommendations relating to outsourcing of government services are being considered by the inter-departmental committee which is developing the Government's response to the Council's Contracting Out report - Report No. 42.