Pirate Party Australia condemns the actions of Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, who has refused to release documents regarding mass starvation in East Timor, despite the fact that they are up to 37 years old.
Revelations that the documents could “reveal Australian complicity in concealing the mass starvation of 100,000 East Timorese” highlights the real need for governmental transparency and accountability that the Party continues to advocate. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for requesting Ms Roxon deny the release, claiming that it would be contrary to the national interest. The effect the documents would have on ties between Australia and Indonesia are minimal, claims former Army intelligence officer Clinton Fernandes.
Pirate Party Australia holds that the continual secrecy and outright refusal of government institutions to release documents is a serious threat to Australian democracy, and must be curbed immediately. They wish to draw attention to the opacity of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations, where citizens globally were only able to inspect documents that were leaked, and no official drafts have been made public.
The Party also feels that while there has been a change of Attorney-General, there has been absolutely no change of modus operandi since Robert McClelland was removed from the position in a cabinet reshuffle late last year.
Last month the Attorney-General continued the trend set by her predecessor, and held what is believed to be the fourth closed-door meeting between her department and industry regarding Internet piracy. Attempts to access notes of the meeting under the Freedom of Information Act were unsuccessful. Among the redacted information were “14 pages of notes taken by a departmental staffer at the event and other four pages of notes taken by a senior staffer from Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s department.”
This is the second time that notes – effectively minutes of the meeting – have been denied to the public and the media, with the claim that “no minutes of the meetings were taken”.
“The way the Attorney-General’s department is treating Australians is an affront to democracy. Hosting secret industry talks and withholding documents that are decades old are not the hallmark of a fair, representative and transparent democracy. We call on the Attorney-General to change her course and release this information in the public interest,” said Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party Secretary.
Pirate Party Australia maintains that all government negotiations – whether with industry or foreign governments – must be transparent and accessible by the Australian public. When governments hide negotiations with vested interests from the public, it is highly likely that the same vested interests will get what they want, regardless of the wishes of the very people the government is meant to serve.
The Pirate Party warns that the ‘top secret’ stamp is being used to hide incompetence and dishonesty, and is setting a dangerous precedent for further abuses.
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