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Expedite new freedom of information law, says RSF

(RSF/IFEX) - In an open letter to Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig, RSF urges the Australian government to pass important legislation on freedom of information:

Senator Joe Ludwig
Cabinet Secretary
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Paris, 7 May 2010

Dear Honourable Joe Ludwig,

Reporters Without Borders congratulates you for your speech to the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference on 2 May 2010 in Brisbane, in which you outlined the government's important freedom of information reforms. We hail your efforts in taking the issue of freedom of information a step further than the Freedom of Information laws of 1982. As you rightly pointed out, government information culture worldwide is changing rapidly and Australia's legislation has lagged behind the world's best practice, as it allowed ministers to make blanket and unreviewable decisions to refuse information.

We therefore strongly believe that your efforts will bring a great contribution to members of the press, researchers and advocates in their performance in the democratic function of disseminating information and ideas to the public.

More broadly, it is in the interests of all citizens that there be a culture of transparency and free flow of information in government. We applaud your ambition for Australians to be able to reap the democratic social and economic benefits that can come when government information is set free.

As a result, our organisation urges the Australian government to expedite the passage of this legislation in the upcoming session of Parliament so that this important work is not lost in the event of a change of government in the upcoming federal election.

This historical step forward is in the interest of all Australian citizens and should be regarded as above political allegiances. Likewise, if you think it would be useful, Reporters Without Borders could publicly stress the importance of this bill to all members of the Australian parliament.

Jean-François Juilliard

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