In April 2008, the NSW Ombudsman initiated a review of the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) (the FOI Act). PIAC provided a submission responding to the Ombudsman’s discussion paper.
Some of the key points that PIAC made in this submission are:
- a public interest test should be incorporated into all of the exemptions;
- consideration should be given to the introduction of an overarching public interest test;
- the right to access one’s own information should be removed from the FOI Act and placed in the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW);
- the position of an independent statutory Information Commissioner should be established with responsibility for monitoring and reporting, providing training, advice and guidance, and undertaking investigations into the operation of the FOI Act;
- priority needs to be given to introducing measures, such as sanctions, annual report cards, and better training, to change the culture of secrecy within many public sector agencies.