The administrative implications of freedom of information legislation

Geoffrey Hawker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Abstract: Freedom of information legislation is now an item on the political agenda. In the debate about the scope of such legislation, however, some important administrative questions have been ignored. Relevant overseas experience, particularly that of North America, has not been given the attention it deserves. By 1972 the Labor Party had made “open government” an electoral issue, although four distinct notions were involved in this concept, namely administrative review; public comment by public servants; more helpful institutions; and autonomous access to information in institutions. However the efforts of the Labor government during 1972‐75 to implement freedom of information proposals foundered partly because issues of procedures, cost and personnel were not perceived as being salient; and the situation has not changed much since. Questions about the administration of freedom of information legislation are discussed in relation to the recommendations of the Coombs Report, and it is argued that the matter needs to be approached in new ways, one of which is through action research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-185
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of Public Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1977


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