The Tasmanian Government is committed to improving openness and accountability of government decision-making and has implemented a number of measures to achieve this since coming to government.
We have made concerted efforts to actively increase the amount of information released and since June 2018, the Government has released more than 60 new routine datasets online, as it continues to increase the public’s access to information.
We have also launched a new Government Information Gateway webpage that is available on DPAC’s website to make Government information proactively disclosed, easier to find.
The Tasmanian Government also regularly reports on gifts, benefits and hospitality received and given by officers across all agencies. We are also implementing the updated Ministerial Code of Conduct and supporting Parliament’s adoption of a new Member’s Code of Conduct, while also continuing to publish information released under the Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act) within 48 hours of release to applicants and the ongoing publication of public consultation submissions.
Our Government routinely reports on Right to Information requests. The Right to Information Annual Reports provide detailed information on the outcomes of these requests. The Reports also provides detailed reasons for a refusal and, in the 2018-19 Annual Report released earlier this year, it reports that in the main the reasons for a refusal are because that information is already publicly available.
This Annual Report also highlights that the exemptions are mainly due to personal information of a person and enforcement of the law.
Last year, improvements to Tasmania’s Right to Information laws were passed by the Parliament. The changes to the Act ensured that applicants and external parties can apply to the Ombudsman for review of certain decisions in relation to applications for assessed disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009. These changes now allow both applicants and external parties to request the Ombudsman to review decisions on whether or not information should be provided under the Act, regardless of whether the application for that information is made to a Minister or a public authority.
In addition, we have provided the Office of the Ombudsman with additional funding of $245,000 per year in last year’s budget which has been welcomed and used to recruit additional staff to deal directly with RTI matters.
We have made all these improvements since coming to Government, improving what was left to us by the former Labor and Labor-Green Governments, ensuring increased levels of routine public disclosure in the interests of openness and accountability.
Elise Archer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice