Former judge to lead review of 20-year-old Public Records Act

The unacknowledged rights of First Nations communities under Queensland’s current Public Records Act will form part of a review of the 20-year-old legislation by an eminent judge.

Former Supreme Court Justice John Byrne AO RFQ was tasked on Friday with heading a review of the Act to help modernise and strengthen government record keeping.

Queensland Communities, Housing and Digital Economy Minister Leeanne Enoch said the review – with a report expected to be delivered in August – aimed to ensure the Act remains relevant, meets community standards, supports governance and decision-making processes, and delivers public information and record management best practices.

“Written in 2002, the Public Records Act does not take into account the digital advancements of the past 20 years and does not adequately represent all Queenslanders,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Act predates the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 so does not recognise the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, nor does it provide any special provisions for First Nations communities.”

Former Justice Byrne welcomed the opportunity to review the Act, saying it was a chance to address the challenges confronted by an ever evolving modern society.

“It has been 20 years since the Act was written and there’s been significant societal and digital change during that time,” he said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to make sure that the Act is dealing with the challenges of a modern Queensland and that it reflects community expectations.”

His Honour served more than 28-years of his stellar 50-year legal career as a judge of Queensland’s Supreme Court (1989-2017). He also served 10 years as the court’s senior judge administrator before his retirement from the bench on 23 August 2017.

Ms Enoch said review highlighted the Government’s commitment to integrity and governance in the public sector.

“I am delighted that Justice Byrne has agreed to conduct this important work to create a new and more comprehensive and inclusive Public Records Act which will enable efficient recordkeeping in the digital environment and will include First Nations perspectives,” she said.

“Justice Byrne will be supported by a panel of experts in information management, digital technology, archival practices, records related to First Nations peoples, and heritage aspects of public records.”

Other members of the independent review panel include University of Queensland’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Indigenous Engagement Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, International Council of Archives President David Fricker CdOAL GAICD, Griffith University’s Business School adjunct Professor Linda O’Brien and Queensland University of Technology’s Old Government House Curator and historian Dr Katie McConnel.

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