Commissioners and Ombudsmen celebrate Information Day

Tuesday, 29 September, 2020

Commissioners and Ombudsmen celebrate Information Day

Information Access Commissioners and Ombudsmen from Australia and New Zealand have marked International Access to Information Day (previously Right to Know Day) by joining with members of the United Nations, international regulators and others to acknowledge the importance of access to information laws, and the community’s right to know.

In a joint statement, the Commissioners and Ombudsmen noted that International Access to Information Day is an opportunity to recognise the vital role of information access in building community trust through transparency, in times of crisis and beyond.

The joint statement also addressed the importance of public access to information as governments respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledging that the proactive release of government-held information helps the response to COVID-19, bushfires and other emergencies.

Public access to information also instils confidence in decisions that promote economic recovery from COVID-19, by preserving transparency and accountability in government expenditure. It also ensures that the public understands decisions that affect them.

Information access laws across Australia and New Zealand ensure that citizens have the right to information. As countries around the world manage the impacts of COVID-19 and other crises, access to information becomes even more essential. The joint statement notes that open, transparent and accountable governments that proactively release information to the community remain fundamental to a democratic society.

The joint statement was co-signed by Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner, and Peter Boshier, Chief Ombudsman (New Zealand). It was also signed by Elizabeth Tydd, Information Commissioner (NSW), Rachel Rangihaeata, Information Commissioner (Queensland), Sven Bluemmel, Information Commissioner (Victoria), Catherine Fletcher, Information Commissioner (WA), and Peter Shoyer, Information Commissioner (NT). Wayne Lines, Ombudsman for South Australia, Richard Connock, Ombudsman for Tasmania and Michael Manthorpe, Ombudsman for ACT, also co-signed the joint statement.

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