Banned FOI lobby group will sit on new open government board

The complainant, respondent and adjudicator of a Freedom of Information spat will all find themselves sharing duties to usher in Australia’s commitment to open government.

The new steering committee for Australia’s Open Government Partnership was announced yesterday, comprising a high powered team of Commonwealth deputy secretaries, the privacy and acting information commissioner, and civil society representatives. Among that last group included a representative of an FOI lobby group that was banned by a major federal agency last week.

The spat between the Australian Taxation Office and the Right To Know project of the OpenAustralia Foundation splashed across the media this week, after the ATO ceased complying with FOI requests from the site, citing systemic issues of management and privacy. An ATO spokesperson said:

“We are particularly concerned with the names of staff processing the FOI request being published on the website … Publishing all procedural material about FOI requests is not acceptable, nor is having no contact number, address or ability to respond promptly to email requests.”

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