OAIC weakened as commissioner side-steps into NSW role

John McMillan is to take over from Bruce Barbour as NSW Ombudsman — but what impact this will have on the already embattled Office of the Australian Information Commissioner is unclear.

John McMillan

John McMillan

Australian information commissioner Professor John McMillan has been named as New South Wales’ new ombudsman, to take over from Bruce Barbour when he finishes on June 30, in a move that looks likely to further weaken the agency.

Because he is aged 65, McMillan has been appointed in an acting capacity for a two-year term. By law, ombudsman cannot be aged 65 or over.

As acting ombudsman, he will likely take over direction of the agency’s high profile investigation into the improper surveillance of senior police between 1999 and 2001, known as Operation Prospect, which has been the subject of a number of parliamentary inquiries. The parliamentary inquiry was sparked in part by concerns the ombudsman may not be able to report on Operation Prospect before Barbour finishes at the end of June.

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