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Monday, February 15, 2010

Mrs Osland's Christmas yet to come-HIgh Court to decide again

Thanks to Harley Schumann at The Lamp Post, which keeps a close eye on the High Court, for alerting me that the Court on Friday granted another special leave application to Marjorie Osland in the long running battle over a Freedom of Information application for documents concerning her petition for mercy. Here's Harley:
Secretary, Department of Justice v Osland (No 2) [2009] VSCA 69 Marjorie Osland is back in the High Court. She is still seeking documents under FOI legislation that relate to her petition for mercy. It must be like Christmas over at Open and Shut.
Christmas? Not quite, but I think it's a reference to comments I made at the time about observations by the Victorian Court of Appeal in a decision that overturned a decision of the then President of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal in exercising his public interest override powers, to grant access to documents containing legal advice . Like this for example, which to my mind was a significant reading-down of the discretion:
"(i)t is.. outside the scope of s50(4) for this Court to decide, as a matter of generality, whether there should be public scrutiny of legal advices received by a Minister in connection with the making of an executive decision. That is so whether the public interest is said to reside in greater transparency or in greater accountability… Whether ministerial accountability entails the production of legal advices relied on by ministers in making decisions, and if so in what circumstances, is a policy question which will fall to be considered, if and when it arises, by the executive or by the legislature."
I don't know the grounds for the application or what was said in granting it, but look forward with interest to reading the transcript and to the eventual hearing on the substance.

ABC Radio has just picked up the story.

Thanks again Harley.

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