Assistant Freedom of Information Commissioners appointed

Attorney-General Robert Clark today announced the appointment of two Assistant Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioners, Mr Michael Ison and Ms Rachel Westaway.

Earlier this year, the Government announced it would further strengthen the work of the FOI Commissioner by providing the new Assistant Commissioner positions to assist in handling reviews and complaints. Legislation to establish the new positions came into operation last month.

Mr Clark said both Mr Ison and Ms Westaway brought valuable skills and extensive experience to their new roles.

Mr Ison is a Barrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria of 20 years standing with extensive experience in public administration and local government. He is currently Corporate Solicitor at the City of Maroondah and convenor of the Victorian local government in-house lawyers group. Mr Ison is a member of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association and the Law Institute of Victoria.

“I expect Mr Ison’s strong understanding of local government will provide valuable assistance in dealings by the FOI Commissioner with the 79 local government councils that are subject to Victoria’s Freedom of Information Act,” Mr Clark said.

Ms Westaway is a former federal tribunal member with extensive experience in media and community relations. Her experience includes having served as member of both the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal. Ms Westaway has also been Executive Director of Country Press NSW, Australia’s oldest newspaper industry association, representing 130 member newspapers. She has also held management and community liaison roles with the National Trust of Australia, The Age and SBS.

Ms Westaway holds a Bachelor of Arts and Postgraduate Diploma in Business Systems from Monash University and a Graduate Diploma in Education from the Australian Catholic University.

“Ms Westaway brings to her role as an Assistant Commissioner strong decision making experience as a former federal tribunal member where she reviewed over 1,500 matters that directly affected the lives of many individuals and their families,” Mr Clark said.

The Coalition Government established Victoria’s first independent FOI Commissioner in 2012, something Labor refused to do in their 11 years in office despite Ombudsman’s reports repeatedly highlighting Labor’s abuses of FOI.