On 2 October 2014 the Commonwealth Government introduced the Freedom of Information Amendment (New Arrangements) Bill 2014 (Bill) in the Australian Parliament.

The Bill proposes to implement the Government’s 2014-15 budget measure, Smaller Government – Privacy and Freedom of Information functions. If it passes into law, the Bill would:

  • repeal the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 (Cth) and abolish the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC); and
  • amend the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act), the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) and the Ombudsman Act 1976 (Cth).

From 1 January 2015:

  • the Australian Privacy Commissioner would undertake the OAIC’s current functions under the Privacy Act, including handling of privacy complaints, undertaking investigations and other regulatory activities, and providing guidance and advice on privacy to individuals, organisations and agencies; and
  • the OAIC’s functions under the FOI Act would be undertaken by the Attorney‑General’s Department (advice, guidelines, annual reporting), the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (merits review) and the Commonwealth Ombudsman (complaints).

The Explanatory Memoradum for the Bill states that this would largely restore the system for the management of privacy and FOI issues that operated before the OAIC was established on 1 November 2010.

For further information on how the OAIC will deal with privacy and FOI matters up to 31 December 2014 please contact us.