Legal issues and the Attorney-General's portfolio - Information Commissioner

Budget Review 2009-10 Index

Budget 2009 10: Legal issues and the Attorney-General's portfolio

Information Commissioner

Mary Anne Neilsen

The Government will provide $20.1 million (including $2.5 million in capital funding) over four years from 2009–10 to 2012–13 for the establishment of the Office of the Information Commissioner. The establishment of the Office will include the appointment of an Information Commissioner and a Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner. The existing Office of the Privacy Commissioner will also be incorporated into the new agency.[1] As a result, information policy, privacy protection and FOI functions will be combined in one agency. The legislation to establish the new Office will also contain reforms to the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Exposure draft legislation to introduce these changes was released in March 2009 and the Government proposes the Bills be introduced into the Parliament later this year and be operational by January 2010.[2]

The proposed changes are part of the Government’s response to its 2007 election policy that it would reform the FOI Act with the principal objects of promoting a pro-disclosure culture across Government and building a stronger foundation for more openness in government.[3] The Companion Guide to the exposure draft legislation provides further detail on the changes.[4]

[1].    Along with a range of other agencies within the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio, the Government will reduce funding for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner by $0.1 million each year for the next four years. Savings will be achieved through reductions in non-essential agency operating expenditure.

[2].    Information Commissioner Bill 2009 (Exposure draft 24/3/09); Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill (Exposure draft 24/3/09). Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website, viewed 18 May 2009,

[3].    J Faulkner (Cabinet Secretary), Freedom of information (FOI) reform: companion guide, March 2009, viewed 18 May 2009,

[4].    Faulkner, Companion guide.