The Australian Government announced as part of its 2007 election policies that it would reform the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act)with the principal objects of promoting a pro-disclosure culture across the Government and building a stronger foundation for more openness in government.
The Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010
and the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Act
2010 passed through the Parliament on 13 May 2010. Both Acts
received Royal Assent on 31 May 2010.
The majority of the measures, including the establishment of the new Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, will commence on 1 November 2010. Different commencement times apply for:
You can view information about the new FOI regime on the Office
of the Australian Information Commissioner website at http://www.oaic.gov.au/.
You can view information on the Bills at the Parliament of Australia ParlInfo website: Australian Information Commissioner Bill 2010 and Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2010.
Introduction of the Bills followed the Government's consideration of public submissions on exposure draft legislation. Public submissions received were posted on the Submissions page.
Agencies will be required to take contractual measures to ensure they receive documents held by certain contractors or subcontractors if a person requests access to documents under the FOI Act. The requirement applies to certain contracts entered into on or after 1 November 2010. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has issued a model clause and guidance document for download from the Office's website.
On 26 February 2010 the Government announced the appointment of
Professor John McMillan AO as the Information Commissioner
Designate. Professor McMillan will be responsible for ensuring the
Office of the Information Commissioner is fully operational as soon
as practicable after commencement of the reforms. Professor
McMillan's appointment as Information Commissioner will commence on
1 November 2010.
The Information Commissioner will be supported by two statutory officers - the Privacy Commissioner and the FOI Commissioner. Timothy Pilgrim was appointed as the Privacy Commissioner for a term of 5 years from 19 July 2010.
On 24 March 2009 the Government announced proposed reforms to
FOI fees and charges, including that no application fees (including
for internal review) will apply to access requests; no charges will
apply to applicants seeking access to their own personal
information under the FOI Act; for all other applications, the
first hour of decision-making time will be free (except for
journalists and not-for-profit community groups where the first
five hours of decision making time will be free); and applications
not decided within the statutory time frame will be processed free
of charge. The Government also announced that the Information
Commissioner will be requested to undertake a comprehensive review
of charges within 12 months of the Commissioner's
Some of these changes will require amendment of the Freedom of Information (Fees and Charges) Regulations 1982.
The Freedom of Information (Removal of Conclusive Certificates and Other Measures) Act 2009 commenced on 7 October 2009. The Act repealed the power to issue conclusive certificates in the FOI Act and the Archives Act 1983. You can view the Act at the ComLaw website. For information about the Bill for this Act, please visit the Parliament of Australia ParlInfo website.