Freedom of Information (Offences) Amendment Bill


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (11:16): The Freedom of Information (Offences) Amendment Bill will require stricter controls to be placed on the way that freedom of information applications are treated by government offices. As a member of the opposition, it is critically important because we believe that, where possible, information must be freely available to the people of South Australia.

As I recall, the last time I was discussing this I raised the report done by Thinker in Residence John McTernan, who came to South Australia from Scotland at the request of former premier Rann to do some work on the way that data and information could be freely presented to the South Australian people. It was ironic, I remember at the time, that at the conclusion of him doing that work it took about 18 months for it to be released to the public, and his six-figure fee for being a Thinker in Residence, justified through a release of a report to the public, at the conclusion of the work that he had done.


We had a number of Thinkers in Residence, but I think that John McTernan, as I understand and have been told, held the record for taking the longest to release his report advising on the free availability of data and information—which is somewhat ironic in itself. This bill, I have no doubt, would provide perhaps an example where John McTernan's report might have been sought under freedom of information. A bill like this, if it were in place, might have seen it released a lot earlier than it was because somebody might have been able to get it under freedom of information.

Of course, Mr McTernan went on to work for former prime minister Gillard and helped to free the Australian people from the situation of her government. More recently, he went on to help the Scottish Labour Party and, in the context of providing free information to all around, I believe the Scottish Labour Party now holds one seat. That is a fine body of work created by Mr McTernan and it all comes back to freedom of information and freedom of data; therefore, I support the bill.