Thursday, November 20, 2014

Government passes law allowing it to put more information out on internet without being sued

Attorney General John Rau ... bigger push for government transparency.
Attorney General John Rau ... bigger push for government transparency. Source: News Corp Australia
 
DETAILS on crimes in hospitals and “code black” events, excess public servants, submissions to policy consultations and data on outstanding fines will be put on the internet under a plan to increase Government transparency. 

The State Government passed a law in Parliament this week which will give it ­immunity from any civil suit that could result from the release of such information.

That will allow the Government to extend its “proactive disclosure” policy beyond the credit-card statements, gift registry and phone bills it began publishing last year, which it hopes will create a culture within the public service of releasing, rather than hiding, information.

Attorney-General John Rau said the passage of the law would allow the Government to put a “great deal” of information on the internet without needing teams of lawyers to go through it to redact anything the Government could have been sued for publishing.

“Without this change we would have needed an army of lawyers to work out what is in the documents that’s defamation, breach of contract, negligent mistakes and various other torts,” he said.

Information the Government will regularly update from next year, as part of the new agency disclosure logs, will likely include:

SUBMISSIONS received from the public in response to consultations on policy issues.

HOUSING SA debt statistics, waiting list data, vacancy data, property damage and repairs information.

DETAILS of hunting permits issued, and details of permits to cull native animals.

STATISTICS of crimes in hospitals or “code black” events.

NUMBER of excess public servants broken down by pay level and department.

TREASURY documents relating to credit ratings and list of unclaimed money.

COURTS Administration Authority data relating to outstanding fines.

Mr Rau said the Freedom of Information process was regarded as the “last resort” for accessing information but there was a “culture of risk aversion and a reluctance to release information” unless it was under FOI.

Opposition deputy leader Vickie Chapman said the change was “irresponsible” and would give “licence to some public servants to be recklessly negligent”.

Mr Rau said the Government had no intention of prescribing information of a personal or sensitive nature.

Originally published as Protection for govenment over internet info release

news.com.au 20 Nov 2014

Australia's corrupt government at work.

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