Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Government secrecy review

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-20

The Australian Law Reform Commission is in the middle of an inquiry (I missed it earlier) into the need for secrecy of Australian Government documents in an open society.  Comments on the current issues paper need to be in by mid February.

Seriously, this is tricky stuff, and I’d really appreciate it if there is anybody out there who can go through any of the issues and make comments here to help me get my thoughts together, including whether I indeed know enough to comment at all!  I’m particular crying for help from any legally-savvy libertarian and/or open-government-ite readers…. heh heh…. you know who you are.

From my very quick eyeballing, one of the dangerous outcomes could be a significant amount of government information being made available to private-sector interests, while more information relevant to the public and important to transparency will get locked away as "Commercial-In-Confidence".

One important area under review is when to require proof, and how much, that Australia would be harmed by release of the information, before deciding whether or not it should be "secret"… tricky!!!

Let’s hope they’ll also make proper document metadata labelling of confidentiality inside documents so that relative secrecy levels can be compared across agencies, and allow the public to Google throughout government datastores for anything NOT marked secret, and thus make most FOI costs disappear overnight!

If there is a good outcome, it might give us ammunition against dodgy state governments, especially the one in Joh Brumby‘s Victoria.

Details over the fold…

While I remember, they’ve just announced an upcoming inquiry into a Royal Commission-like structures, citing the Haneef Inquiry as demonstrating something that can be quickly set up, but have at least some of the powers so far peculiar to Royal Commissions.


One Response to “Government secrecy review”

  1. […] at openness" (2008-12-28), the new blog is concerned with one issue as part of the "Government Secrecy Review" […]

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