ART is very concerned that Freedom of Information (FOI) provisions at the Federal level are under threat and a dangerous precedent subverting the Senate’s constitutional position may be being set.

We have previously made a submission to the Senate Committee investigating changes to the proposed Freedom of Information Amendment (New Arrangements) Bill 2014. Our submission is posted on our website.

One of the major objectives of this Bill, which has been before the Senate since October 2014, is the abolition of the statutory position of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

A combination of government action and parliamentary inaction has now created a serious situation that requires speedy action by the government and Senate in the lead up to and during the upcoming Budget process.  At present, the statutory office of Commissioner still exists and is trying to function, but the Federal government’s 2014-5 budget terminated the funding of the OAIC from December 2014. This means that the Commissioner is now working from home until the end of his contract in October 2015.

We have set out the issues and our detailed requests in a letter to Senator George Brandis, Attorney General, and in similar terms to the Treasurer and the Minister of Finance (Read the letter to Brandis here) and to the Senators (Read the letter to Senators here).