Brandis' Refusal To Publish Diary Reaches Full Court Of The Federal Court

Today I will appear in front of a bench of three judges in the Full Court of the Federal Court in Sydney, to once again argue the case for Senator Brandis to commit to basic transparency and release small parts of his diary under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

 

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

 

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

 

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

 

 

BRANDIS’ REFUSAL TO PUBLISH DIARY REACHES FULL COURT OF THE FEDERAL COURT

 

 

 

Today I will appear in front of a bench of three judges in the Full Court of the Federal Court in Sydney, to once again argue the case for Senator Brandis to commit to basic transparency and release small parts of his diary under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

 

It has been more than two years since the original request was made for Senator Brandis’ appointments in a weekly Outlook diary format for the period 18 September 2013 to 12 May 2014, to determine whether he had met with community legal services groups before slashing their funding.

 

 

 

Senator Brandis’ office refused to even process the request, claiming that hitting the print button would be such a large administrative burden that it would interfere directly with the Attorney-General’s work.

 

 

 

Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot, sitting on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, ruled that excuse completely baseless. That did not stop Senator Brandis from deciding to appeal her decision to the Full Court of the Federal Court, which will be heard today.

 

 

 

Defending Senator Brandis’ secrecy will cost the taxpayer as much as $30,000 in legal costs, including the services of a Queens Counsel, a junior barrister and a team of Australian Government Solicitor lawyers. The cost to file the appeal alone was $4,215.

 

 

 

What has Senator Brandis got to hide, that he thinks is worth charging the taxpayer so much for? President Barack Obama and the entire New South Wales state ministry routinely publish their diaries online. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has released her diary following a similar Freedom of Information request. Why is Senator Brandis a special case?

 

 

 

Senator Brandis is the Minister in charge of our Freedom of Information laws. That he does not seem to think them worth following, or that he does not believe in the most basic transparency, is completely mystifying.

 

 

 

Worryingly, Senator Brandis has refused to rule out pursuing this case to the High Court if he loses today. Let us hope Senator Brandis’ opposition to transparency goes no further.

 

 

 

FRIDAY, 12 AUGUST 2016