The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has been spared by the 2016 Federal Budget, after repeated attempts by government to de-fund and shut down the office were stymied by Opposition in the Senate. Tonight’s budget confirms that the OAIC, which deals with digital privacy, freedom of information and information policy for Australia’s federal bodies, will be funded for the next term of government.
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In a statement from Australia’s Attorney-General Senator George Brandis, as well as tonight’s budget documents, the OAIC — which has been dealing with a larger workload despite significantly reduced funding under the previous government leadership of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott — receives almost $40 million to operate over the next four years.
The OAIC is responsible for policing the privacy of private citizen data and government data alike in Australia’s government bodies. It has its hands full mostly with work from privacy breaches by the federal Department of Immigration. In the 2016-17 budget, the agency has been allocated $14.4 million.
The Government has decided not to proceed with the new arrangements for privacy and Freedom of Information (FOI) regulation, including the proposed changes to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
Accordingly, the OAIC will receive ongoing funding of $37 million over four years to continue its privacy and FOI functions. FOI funding is provided on the basis of the streamlined approach to FOI reviews adopted by the OAIC since the 2014–15 Budget.