A matter of balance?: freedom of information and deliberative documents
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 03:25 authored by Danielle Moon
The elevation of access to government-held information to the status of a human right has driven a pro-disclosure discourse around freedom of information law. However, rights of access do not exist in a vacuum and must be balanced against the need to protect competing rights and interests. The true purpose of Freedom of Information law, therefore, is not to promote disclosure but to promote the greatest possible disclosure that is consistent with the protection of competing rights and interests. Taking this as a starting point, this thesis examines a number of amendments that were made to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 in 2009-10 and considers their impact upon the disclosure of deliberative documents. It concludes that in some areas - the addition of a new objects clause and some changes to the public interest test - the legislation promotes disclosure to a greater extent than is consistent with the protection of competing rights and interests. However, in other areas - the abolition of conclusive certificates and the reduction of fees and other procedural barriers to access - it is not clear that the changes to the legislation promote disclosure to the greatest extent possible consistent with the protection of other rights and interests.