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31 U. Tas. L. Rev. 58 (2012)
Freedom of Information Reform: Does the New Public Interest Test for Conditionally Exempt Documents Signal the Death of the Howard Factors

handle is hein.journals/utasman31 and id is 64 raw text is: Freedom of Information Reform: Does the
New Public Interest Test for Conditionally
Exempt Documents Signal the Death of 'the
Howard Factors'?
The amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) ('the
Act') implemented by the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform)
Act 2010 (Cth), including setting out pro-disclosure objectives of the Act
more clearly and giving greater clarity to the public interest test by
shifting the balance in favour of disclosure go a significant way towards
addressing previously identified shortcomings in the Act. This article
examines changes to the exemption provisions in Part IV of the Act with
a particular focus on the deliberative processes conditional exemption and
the factors that can be taken into account when seeking to claim it. Of the
five 'Howard factors' set out in Re Howard and the Treasurer' that were
previously relevant to making decisions about where the balance of
public interest lies in determining whether documents should be released,
two have been eliminated in their entirety while another two appear to
have been significantly curtailed. The Howard factor associated with the
policy development functions of an agency remains relevant and will
likely continue to be applied.
The Australian Law Reform Commission and Administrative Review
Council have stated that:
Without information people cannot adequately exercise their rights and
responsibilities as citizens or make informed choices. Government
information is a national resource. Its availability and dissemination are
important for the economic and social well-being of society generally.2
* BA, LLB (Hons), Senior Legal Officer, General Counsel Unit, Australian Taxation
Office. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not those of the
Australian Taxation Office.
(1985) 7 ALD 626.
2 Australian Law Reform Commission, Open Government: A Review of the Federal
Freedom of Information Act 1982, Report No 77 (1995); Administrative Review Council,
Report No 40 (1995) 12.

O Law School, University of Tasmania 2012

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