Increasing the public's right to know

The public’s right to know more about how governments operate will be strengthened under proposed changes to South Australia’s Freedom of Information Act to be tabled in State Parliament today.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said public comment is being sought on the proposed changes, which mandate the proactive disclosure of information by government agencies and also reinforce the presumption of releasing information.

“Freedom of Information requests are an integral part of the democratic process,” Attorney-General Chapman said.

“They underpin the principles of open, transparent government and help inform the public’s understanding of the operations of government.

“These changes will strengthen the public’s right to know, while ensuring adequate protections remain in place for sensitive materials.”

Ms Chapman said key changes under the proposed amendments include:

  • Mandating the proactive disclosure of government information and reinforcing the presumption in favour of disclosure
  • Updating the Act to reflect electronic communications and electronic information management and storage methods
  • Minimise so-called ‘deemed refusals’ by extending the time agencies have to deal with an application from 30 days to 45 days
  • Clarify the Act to make it clear that applications are taken to apply to documents that are in existence as at the day of the application
  • Set clearer limits around what is considered an unreasonable request for access.

“These reforms will not only strengthen the provisions of the FOI Act, they’ll ensure agencies can better deliver on the objectives of the Act,” Ms Chapman said.

To learn more about the changes, or make a submission, head to www.yoursay.sa.gov.au/foi-laws after the bill has been tabled.

The proposed updates to the FOI Act furthers the Government’s Justice Agenda key priority of keeping the law and our policies current and relevant. The Justice Agenda is available at https://www.agd.sa.gov.au/sites/default/files/1852_justicestrategydocument_v20.pdf