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New Bill to criminalise improper interference with FOI requests

Oct 30, 2014

Vincent Tarzia MP
Member for Hartley

New Bill to criminalise improper interference with FOI requests

Liberal Member for Hartley, Vincent Tarzia, will today introduce a Bill making it illegal for a Government Minister, or their staff, from giving improper directions or influence to a Government agency that has been served with a Freedom of Information request.
In a national comparison of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, South Australia has often been referred to as the most secretive state in the nation after 12 years of Labor.
In a recent report tabled in Parliament about South Australia’s FOI laws, State Ombudsman Richard Bingham stated:

“…evidence provided to the audit strongly suggests that ministerial or political influence is brought to bear on agencies’ FOI officers, and that FOI officers may have been pressured to change their determinations in particular instances.”

“There has been no criminal penalty for Ministers and their staff to unduly influence the release of important documents that are in the public interest – until now,” said Mr Tarzia.
“A breach of these provisions would incur large fines and criminal convictions for those people found guilty of the offence.
“It will also direct the appropriate FOI Officer to report any breach of the new law to the Office of Public Integrity for further investigation.
“Transparency and accountability in Government is an important pillar of our democracy, not only in South Australia, but across the country.
“The Weatherill Labor Government has destroyed that transparency and accountability after 12 years in Government.
“This is an important reform to South Australia’s Freedom of Information laws.
“If the Weatherill Labor Government is serious about accountability to the community and transparency, then it must support this Bill.”




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