Image for Tasmania’s Right to Information reforms found wanting

Tasmania’s new Right to Know legislation and how it is being implemented is disappointing, according to Sydney lawyer and Freedom of Information blogger, Peter Timmins.

In a post on his Open and Shut blog, Timmims concludes that “agency performance three months after commencement of the scheme hardly suggests the brave new world that Attorney General Giddings spoke of in April 2009” when she said that “the key proposal is a new approach to accessing information which encourages departments to ‘push’ information into the public arena rather than waiting for a request to ‘pull’ the information from the agency.”

Timmins notes that not only is the Tasmanian legislation weaker that the Queensland equivalent but that guidelines issued by the Tasmanian Ombudsman are, while near identical, significantly softer in key aspects.

The limits of the legislation and guidelines aside, Timmins finds that, three months after the legislation came into effect, there is little indication that agencies are being proactive in releasing additional information.

According to Timmins:

“It’s a gold star for Infrastructure Energy and Resources that not only has a Routine Disclosure Register but includes quite a bit of released information on a range of topics.

As to the rest there isn’t much at all, suggesting either they have nothing they judge to be of interest, or more likely, are lagging in responding to what the the Attorney General explained was at the heart of the reforms.

No star for Education whose RTI page is as minimalist as they come. Tasmania Police does a little better on the Disclosures page. Forestry Tasmania has a Release of Information page with all the right headings and some published information.

Premier and Cabinet and most other departments have a standard RTI page, but all that can be found regarding proactively released information is an invitation to keep looking, or to hunt through Publications. Nothing like the voluntary publication of selected cabinet decisions being posted voluntarily by its Queensland counterpart.”

See Tasmania’s pro active publication falling short for the full article.