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Right to Know audit.



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Right to Know Audit Media Statement - 5th November 2007

Federal Labor today welcomed the report issued today by the Right to Know campaign, saying it reinforced the need for policy reform in areas.

Federal Labor today reiterated its plan to reform freedom of information (FOI), journalist privilege, whistleblower protection and privacy laws - under a major plan to foster “open government”.

Federal Labor is proposing a significant restructure of information laws. A Rudd Labor Government will:

z Replace the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in the FOI review process with a

Freedom of Information Commissioner; z Preserve the role of Privacy Commissioner and complete the existing review

of the operation of the Privacy Act so that protection and access to personal information across both the Privacy Act and FOI Act regimes are consistent; z Bring together the functions of privacy protection and freedom of information

in an Office of the Information Commissioner - to streamline and fast-track information policy across government; z Preserve the existing role of the Privacy Commissioner - to protect individual

privacy; z Abolish conclusive certificates from the FOI process - which stymie genuine

requests by allowing Ministers to arbitrarily deny the release of information; z Support reasonable changes to current journalist shield laws to protect their

sources and ensure that a responsible journalist is never again prosecuted for a story that is “merely embarrassing” to a government; z Pursue national reform of suppression orders in court proceedings through

the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General; and z Provide best-practice legislation and expansion of protection for public

interest disclosure whistleblowers protecting them from retribution - such as the customs officer, Mr Alan Kessing, who blew the whistle on organised crime, lax airport security and inadequate policing.

This is about breaking the code of silence that has developed after 11 years of the Howard Government.

Access to government information and decision-making are keys to a healthy and vibrant democracy.

The current FOI regime allows the Howard Government to escape real transparency and genuine accountability. For 11 years, the Howard Government has shrunk away from the light of public scrutiny and transparency - by abusing the current FOI laws.

Joe Ludwig