FoI in Australia: Arguments for overhaul of FoI legislation

Strengthening laws on Freedom of Information, including shield laws to protect journalists, were identified at a summit in Australia as the key to improving government accountability.

Governance sessions of the summit attended by leading academics, commentators and journalists argued strongly for open government and a strong, independent media.

Chairman and chief executive of News Limited - publisher of The Australian - John Hartigan, who co-chaired the sessions, said many ideas on how to make government, especially the executive, open and accountable were received.

Mr Hartigan said much support was given, not only for overhauling Freedom of Information laws to improve public access to government files, but also to speed up the time taken to provide information.

The Rudd Government is already committed to ending the Coalition's imposition of "conclusive certificates" that give ministers the right to block Freedom of Information requests.

Overhaul of FOI seen as key to open government (The Australian, 21 April 2008)