Brandis Secrecy Ruled Out Of Order

 

BRANDIS SECRECY RULED OUT OF ORDER

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has overruled Attorney-General George Brandis this morning, directing him to process an FOI request for his ministerial diary by Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.

THE HON. MARK DREYFUS QC, MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

BRANDIS SECRECY RULED OUT OF ORDER

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has overruled Attorney-General George Brandis this morning, directing him to process an FOI request for his ministerial diary by Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.

 

In a judgment handed down this morning, Justice Jayne Jagot rejected Senator Brandis’s argument that the FOI request would be an unreasonable burden on him.

 

“Senator Brandis clearly thinks he is above the rules”, said Mr Dreyfus, who appeared himself at the AAT’s hearing in November, “but the Tribunal has ruled that his secretive approach to my simple request was in breach of the FOI Act.”

 

Senator Brandis had made a range of incredible claims about just how difficult it would be to process the request, arguing that it would take up to 630 hours for his office to export and redact his Microsoft Outlook diary, that he would be required to consult with as many as 263 people, and that he would need to be personally involved in what is a routine FOI decision-making process. He argued that there was no public interest in the scrutiny of what he does with his time in high office, who he meets with and what his priorities are.

 

“These were just excuses, and they didn’t hold any water in the Tribunal,” said Mr Dreyfus. “Australians should be very worried about a government that is so secretive that it will flout the law to avoid proper scrutiny and accountability.”

 

“This is the same Attorney-General who is seeking to abolish Australia’s independent FOI watchdog and put himself in charge of FOI – truly putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. How can a minister who flouts the FOI Act himself be made responsible for overseeing the FOI system?”

 

Mr Dreyfus was assisted with this matter in the AAT by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.


TUESDAY, 22 DECEMBER 2015