Labor-Greens government continues to foster culture of secrecy through neglect of FOI issues


During Estimates Hearings today the Special Minister of State could not provide any confidence that the Labor-Greens Government prioritised transparency through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

Following a line of questioning from Shadow Attorney General Peter Cain, the Minister failed to answer basic questions about current government FOI processes.

“This Labor-Greens government has proven time and time again their contempt for government transparency; they clearly do not value accountability,” Mr Cain said.

“The Minister could not answer basic questions about staff shortages in government FOI roles, the appropriateness and lack of consistency of staff training, and when FOI disclosure logs are audited.

“The FOI process is a linchpin of government transparency that the government will not prioritise, in the best interest of their agenda of fostering secrecy.

“The Minister wasn’t even aware that understaffing was so bad that in some instances, members of the public requesting FOIs have been receiving automatic 3 months extensions.”

An independent report into the FOI process from 2020 highlighted multiple issues with the FOI process, and recommendations to improve it. To date, the Minister has not actioned a single recommendation out of the report

“This raises serious questions around whether the Special Minister of State is doing his job - to ensure consistency across government services and acknowledge their accountability to that,” Mr Cain said.

“Canberrans deserve better. The Minister kept outlining how challenging it would be to ensure transparency and efficiency in the FOI process – not how important it is,” Mr Cain concluded.