FoI in Australia - Radical overhaul of FoI laws needed

A new report has proposed a radical overhaul of freedom of information (FOI) laws giving Queensland one of the most open and accountable governments in the world.

Former journalist David Solomon was selected to conduct the independent inquiry in September last year, just days after Premier Anna Bligh was sworn in promising a more open and accountable government.

Dr Solomon today released his 415-page report, making 141 recommendations, including a proposal to change the provision that exempts a large range of documents from FOI for 30 years because they have gone before cabinet.

It proposes reducing the 30-year rule to 10 years, and three years for ministerial briefs, estimates briefs and question time briefs, subject to a possible extension of time on public interest grounds.

The report notes a FOI culture of "anxiety, even hostility'' in Queensland, and urges the government to adopt a "push'' model - putting information in the public arena - rather than waiting for people to "pull'' it free.Dr Solomon said the proposed system would make Queensland one of the world's most open governments.

Report recommends FOI overhaul (Brisbane Times, 10 June 2008)