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Forty years of FOI: Accountability, policy-making and The National Innovation and Science Agenda
journal contributionposted on 23.06.2021, 01:58 by AJ George, Julie-Anne Tarr, Susan Bird
Executive power in policy-making has been the subject of longstanding jurisprudential and political debate. Innovation policies aimed at driving collaborative government and industry outcomes sit very much at the intersection of this tension. In the 1990’s Christopher Arup highlighted legitimacy concerns around ‘corporatist’ innovation policy involving greater government-corporate alliancing and selective policy measures, nominating procedural reform and audits to check policy-making power. However, the development of the National Innovation and Science Agenda shows these mechanisms to be less than effective. With the passage of 40 years since the Freedom of Information (‘FOI’) Bill was considered by a Senate Committee, it is timely to reconsider the role of public scrutiny in policy-making. While increased scrutiny is at least part of the answer to better policy, the FOI regime faces significant obstacles in achieving its objectives in the innovation policy space, if not at broader levels within government policy development. Against the backdrop of recent calls for greater confidentiality in the policy-making process, it is argued that increased secrecy is not the answer.