Pirate Party Appeals National Security Legislation Freedom of Information Refusal

Having been refused access to draft national security legislation and preparatory texts, Pirate Party Australia has appealed to the Australian Office of the Information Commissioner for a review of the decisions of the Attorney General’s Department in the hope of gaining access to the documents.[1]

“After what was a disgraceful decision by the bureaucrats at the Attorney General’s Department to suppress these documents, we have now elected to appeal to the Information Commissioner so that we might finally come to understand the position of the Attorney General’s Department, and the advice they have received thus far,” said Rodney Serkowski, speaking for Pirate Party Australia.

“Whilst we have seen improvements in Freedom of Information laws in this country, there is still vast room for improvement, with the culture of secrecy still permeating throughout the public service. Processes and information that should be publicly available, are being suppressed for political reasons and to inhibit meaningful scrutiny and participation by non-governmental organisations and civil society,” Mr Serkowski.

“None of the reasons or factors presented by the Attorney General’s Department are, nor should be, legitimate reasons for the suppression of government documents. We sincerely hope the Information Commissioner orders the release of the information that we have requested. Any reason for suppressing a document has to be weighed against the value of ‘increasing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the Government’s activities'[2], which is a basic democratic value — indeed one of the cornerstones of democracy.”

Unfortunately the process can take many months, however the Party eagerly awaits the response of the Information Commissioner.

Party Secretary, Brendan Molloy, will be speaking about the upcoming Freedom of Information legislation review being undertaken by the Attorney General’s Department at the Record Keeping Roundtable’s panel ‘FOI Under Attack?’ being held today, Tuesday 20 November, 6PM at the Trinity Hotel in Surry Hills[3]. Journalists, activists and others that deal with or are interested in the processes of what is at stake with the review are invited to attend.

[1] https://pirateparty.org.au/media/documents/Appeal_OAIC_NatSec.pdf
[2] http://www.oaic.gov.au/foi-portal/about_foi.html#what_is_foi
[3] http://recordkeepingroundtable.org/2012/11/09/foi-under-attack/

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