Freedom "of" or Freedom "from" Information?

March 11, 2018

One of the state’s most prolific freedom of information applicants says South Australians should not  have to pay to access basic details from government departments.

Australian Conservatives MP Robert Brokenshire has told the Sunday Mail an Attorney-General’s Department review into FoI fees and charges should result in most applications being free.

The current rules and regulations governing FoIs expire in September, with a public consultation period currently underway.

Mr Brokenshire will push for a similar fee structure that applies to the state’s MPs – where they do not have to pay if the cost of responding to an FoI is less than $1000.

“If it’s good enough for an MP, it’s good enough for a citizen,” Mr Brokenshire said.

Currently it costs a member of the public $34.25 to make an to make an FoI application, with fees rising astronomically if a department determines significant resources need to be poured into finding the answer.

In a new push for government accountability, Mr Brokenshire says the Australian Conservatives would move legislation that forced departments to provide information faster, and prevented government interference in the process.

“As someone who puts in more FoIs than anyone else I’m seeing applications take six months to get responses, instead of the required 28 days,” Mr Brokenshire said.

“If they can’t provide the information inside the 28 days they should pay a serious penalty.

That’s the only way to force change and make getting answers quicker and easier.”

Mr Brokenshire will also propose that ministers and their staffers should not have anything to do with departmental FoIs.

He said the Government had “corrupted the process” so ministers were aware of most potentially embarrassing requests for information.

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