Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator

Australia – (C6) Practice of access to information

Score in short:

The law provides access to public information, but practical problems persist.

Score in detail:

The Freedom of Information legislation in Australia was seen as such a hurdle to journalistic work that in 2007 nine major media companies, the two public broadcasters and the MeAA formed the ‘Right to Know’ coalition to address concerns about free speech in Australia (Right to Know 2010). This coalition set out to work with the Commonwealth and State governments to establish new policy and best practice to improve Australian’s relatively poor world ranking for freedom of speech which, in 2010, led to sweeping changes in the Freedom of Information legislation, making it easier for Australians to get information about the federal government. Some of the Australian states also have begun to overhaul their Freedom of Information legislation (Herman 2009, 9-11)

Interviewees pointed to two major problems with regard to Australia’s Freedom of Information. one is the time it takes to access the information, and the other is the ongoing secrecy provisions which prevent journalists, and for that matter anyone, having access to the information. As the newly elected minority government has to rely on the vote of one of Australia’s best known whistleblowers, it can be assumed that further changes to the Freedom of Information and shield laws will be addressed in this legislature.