Former journalist and barrister, David Solomon, is recommending sweeping changes to the Queensland Freedom Of Information (FOI) regime, turning it into Right To Information (RTO), which could open up government to the people. Premier Anna Bligh has promised new laws early in 2009. Solomons 415-page report, tabled in June, may also help change federal FOI laws.
Wise Solomon opts for making information a right, not a freedom
A major Queensland report setting out a recommended new Freedom Of Information regime could be could be picked up by the Rudd Government.
Former journalist and barrister David Solomon handed down his 415-page report last month, recommending huge changes to how official information is collected, stored and released Federal Cabinet Secretary John Faulkner welcomed the Solomon report, and described the proposals as “a valuable contribution to FOI reform”. “The Commonwealth will be carefully examining the recommendations in that report – and the Government remains committed to its election promise to introduce significant reforms in FOI to enhance transparency,” he said.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh tasked Solomon to review the state’s FOI Act. He recommended the government proactively release more documents so there was less need for FOI.
He proposed a new Right To Information (RTI) Act, under which the government would place documents on publicly-accessible databases; release cabinet documents after 10 years instead of 30; and detail cabinet agendas and non-confidential documents immediately.
Ms Bligh said she was supportive of the recommendations, and cabinet would respond to the Solomon report by mid-August. Enabling legislation is likely by early 2009.
As Dr Solomon is also on an advisory committee for the Australian Law Reform Commission’s FOI review, the proposed Queensland model tmay be the foundation of new national FOI law. – from a report by Sean Parnell in The Australian, 12 June 2008