The key elements of the new regime are contained in the
Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009
(GIPA Act), which commences today. For an overview
of the GIPA Act and associated legislation see our earlier Legal Update.
From today, NSW government departments, agencies and public
authorities such as state owned corporations, courts, local and
county councils, and Ministers and their personal staff, must
comply with the disclosure requirements of the GIPA Act.
As a priority, agencies should ensure that they are complying
with the requirements for the mandatory proactive release of
certain government information, known as 'open access
information', which must be made publicly available free of
charge (for example, on an agency's website). The types of
information that agencies must make publicly available from today
documents tabled in Parliament on the agency's behalf,
the agency's policy documents,
the agency's disclosure log of access applications,
the agency's register of government contracts, and
details of open access information that the agency does not
make publicly available.
Agencies are also required to adopt a publication guide (which
is similar to a statement of affairs under the old FOI Act) within
the next 6 months and make this publicly available together with
the open access information listed above.
Agencies should also ensure that they are complying with the
other requirements of the GIPA Act in relation to proactively
releasing government information, responding to informal requests
for government information and dealing with formal access
applications. The website of the
Office of the Information Commissioner contains information to
assist agencies in complying with their obligations under the GIPA
The NSW Premier has recently issued a
Memorandum to ensure that all necessary actions have been taken
in preparation for the new regime. The Premier's message
emphasises that the 'public interest is the relevant
touchstone' of the new right to information regime and
'political considerations must not come into play'. The
Premier has also called for 'a cultural shift' in order to
realise the full promise of the new regime and 'clear and
practical leadership' by Ministers and agencies 'toward
achieving a culture of more open government'
We have been involved in advising numerous NSW government
departments and agencies on the GIPA Act. If we can be of
assistance to you or your organisation in this regard please
contact Ashley Tsacalos.
We have been following the FOI reforms in NSW closely and have
presented papers on the GIPA Act at a number of conferences and
seminars. We also have unique experience and expertise based on the
fact that we have been advising NSW government departments and
agencies on their compliance obligations under the GIPA Act.
Norton Rose will conduct two full day training workshops on the
GIPA Act for:
NSW Government department and agencies on Tuesday, 3 August
Local Councils on Tuesday, 31 August 2010.
If you would like more information about these workshops, please
do not hesitate to contact us or if you would like to register to
attend, complete this
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