Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Secrecy is the style of Australia’s new Abbott government

Abbott-shhhhPM’s department keeps first briefings secret October 31, 2013 SMH  Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent Tony Abbott’s department has decided to keep secret its first briefing for the Prime Minister, arguing disclosure of its advice would be contrary to the public interest.

The decision to block access to the briefing, which was handed to Mr Abbott the day after the election, marks a shift from 2010, when the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet published a redacted version of the briefing it prepared for Julia Gillard.

It follows decisions by Treasury and the Attorney-General’s department – both of which published elements of their 2010 briefs – to refuse Freedom of Information requests for the briefs they prepared for their new political masters.

Fairfax Media, along with other media organisations, applied to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under Freedom of Information for access to the so-called “blue book” prepared in advance for an incoming Coalition government as well as the “red book” for a re-elected Labor government.

The documents typically provide a frank assessment of the party’s election policies as well as the public service’s view of the economy and other information designed to allow a smooth transition between governments.

The department’s acting first assistant secretary, Myra Croke, declined both requests on the grounds that the release of the briefs would “have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations” of the department. “I consider that release of any part of these documents would be contrary to the public interest,” Ms Croke wrote…….

Treasury and the Attorney-General’s department cited similar grounds in refusing requests for their briefs, with the Attorney-General’s department also noting the view expressed publicly by Mr Abbott in opposition that release of the briefs would contravene the Westminster conventions. The Industry and Employment departments have rejected requests from Labor Senator Joe Ludwig for the briefs prepared for their new ministers, arguing the requests are an unreasonable diversion of their resources……..
…..Senator Ludwig said while departments would always take a conservative approach to such requests, Ministers could encourage their departments to release their briefs.

“It is by and large information by individual taxpayers, why shouldn’t they be able to access that information? I think this is a government that is wedded to secrecy,” he said……..  http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/pms-department-keeps-first-briefings-secret-20131031-2wllw.html#ixzz2jQmSYq8j

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November 1, 2013 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2013, politics, secrets and lies

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