Australian Government Lays Information Smokescreen

Faced with opposition to increasing government secrecy by Australia's Right to Know, a coalition of Australian media companies and the journalists' union, the Australian Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, has announced a review of the freedom of information (FOI) laws. The review, to be undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission, prompted a scathing response from the country's leading expert on FOI laws, Professor Rick Snell. "We have had 11 years of inaction and now, on the eve of an election campaign, the Government announces an inquiry," he said. Matthew Moore and Jonathan Pearlman report in the Sydney Morning Herald that "in 1995, the law reform commission made 106 recommendations to improve the law," but "the Government has ignored those recommendations." Channel 7 FOI editor Michael McKinnon noted that Ruddock's announcement "contained no mention whatsoever about improving public access under FOI."