Open Government

The Federal Government has reformed Australia’s Freedom of Information laws. The new laws favour disclosure and are designed to provide greater transparency and openness.

The reforms include abolishing lodgement fees for FOI claims. The first five hours of time taken by a Minister or public official to make a decision on request for information is now free of charge, and access to an individual’s own personal information is also free of charge. If an agency takes longer than the statutory time limit to respond to an FOI request, the agency cannot impose any charge at all (unless an extension of time has been approved). A Minister or agency may also waive or reduce charges, but must, in any event, inform an FOI applicant if they will be required to pay charges. An FOI applicant can apply to have chargers corrected, reduced or waived if, for example, the charges would cause financial hardship.

The reforms also established the Office of the Australian information Commissioner. The Australian Information Commissioner, supported by the Privacy Commissioner and a new Freedom of Information Commissioner, is a specialist independent monitor with the ability to review FOI decisions and investigate complaints. The Australian Information Commissioner will also work with agencies to develop best practice standards in the areas of FOI and privacy, and to monitor compliance.

From 1 May 2011 all information disclosed as result of an FOI request will have to be published online with ten days of the disclosure, unless the information is exempt (as would be the case in relation to private or personal information).

More information and assistance can be sought from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on 1200 363 992 or
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Debating Mathias Cormann on ABC24 (7 Dec)

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Sunny Side Up


15 December 2010

14 Schools from the Fraser Electorate have received grants from the Federal Government to become more energy efficient. Each successful school will receive $50,000 to help install a range of green technologies including solar panels and other renewable power systems and rainwater tanks.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, and the Parliamentary Secretary Mark Dreyfus, announced the grants as part of an announcement today which saw 1,226 schools from across the country receive  $51 million from the Australian Government’s $420 million National Solar Schools Program.

Federal Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, congratulated the schools on taking positive steps to deal with climate change.                                                            

“Our schools have realised the threat which climate change presents and are looking at the green steps they can take,” said Dr Leigh. 

“Canberra schools have already started doing some great things. We have schools with solar panels that not only provide green energy for the school but allow students to learn about energy use by having smart meters that allow real time monitoring of energy consumption across the school. 

“The National Solar Schools Program will give an opportunity to these 14 schools to become more sustainable as well as have students learn about energy use and the renewable energy sector firsthand. 

“We’re helping schools become energy efficient while also skilling our students for the world of tomorrow,” concluded Dr Leigh. 

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, said more than 2,600 schools across the nation had already been funded under the  National Solar Schools Program and more than 93 per cent of those projects included solar power systems. 

“This equates to approximately 11 megawatts of solar power – the equivalent of meeting the electricity needs of around 2,400 average households each day,” Mr Combet said. 

Applications were assessed using merit-based criteria, meaning schools had to demonstrate value for money, as well as environmental and educational benefits. Applicants who were not successful in this round will be eligible to re-apply in future rounds. 

Further information about the National Solar Schools Program including a list of all successful grant recipients is available on the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website:


List of grant recipients

Lake Ginninderra College
Campbell Primary School
Evatt Primary School
Kaleen Primary School
Lyneham High School
Macquarie Primary School
Canberra High School
Black Mountain School
Turner School
Majura Primary
Good Shepherd Primary School
St Thomas More's Primary School
Blue Gum Community School
Rosary Primary School

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01 December 2010 Bamaga, Qld - Northern Peninsula Area regional council Mayor Joseph Elu address the parliamentary committee inquiry into the Wild Rivers legislation - Photo: Cameron Laird (Ph: +61 418 238811)
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Cape York Wild Rivers Hearings

Some photographs from the House Economics Committee's Wild Rivers hearings in Cape York (courtesy of Cameron Laird).

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01 December 2010 Bamaga, Qld - Leslie Footscray, 32 fishes for mackeral from the Seasia jetty near Bamaga, Cape York, QLD - Photo: Cameron Laird (Ph: +61 418 238811)
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01 December 2010 Bamaga, Qld - Parliamentary committee inquiry into the Wild Rivers legislation - Photo: Cameron Laird (Ph: +61 418 238811)
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30 November 2010 Weipa, Qld - Wild Rivers economic impact hearings - Photo: Cameron Laird (Ph: +61 418 238811)
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Video Update from Gungahlin Mobile Office

A video update from my Gungahlin mobile office last Saturday. The final two mobile offices for 2011 will be on Saturday 18 December:

  • 10-11am Dickson Woolies

  • 11:30-12:30 Garema Place

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AYAD Welcome Speech

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.