This resulted when the Government backed down on the onus of proof issue in AAT review processes that had become the main issue of contention. The Opposition despite some earlier huffing and puffing and talk of amendments then didn't pursue other concerns raised in the dissenting report of the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee by Coalition Senators Brandis and Ryan. With Opposition support, and The Greens also happy with this result, the bills as introduced ( with a new section 61 and some minor other Government amendments to the FOI bill and IC bill agreed in the House on Wednesday) passed the Senate on the voices.
There was no support from the major parties for the only other amendment moved in the Senate - by The Greens Senator Ludlam - to repeal the blanket exclusions from the FOI act for documents concerning intelligence agencies. Senator Ludlam the only senator to do so, at least gave voice to continuing interest in a couple of other aspects of the law that should be looked at closely - fees and charges, and the application of freedom of information to parliamentary departments- but can count, and didn't take these issues further.
Neither Parliamentary Secretary Byrne in introducing the new section and other minor amendments, or other speakers for that matter, referred to it during House debate on Tuesday or Wednesday.
"extremely significant and deleterious change to section 61 of the act—was in fact included in a schedule presented to the Senate committee as a miscellaneous technical amendment. Just think about that. Dwell and reflect for a moment on the supreme irony that, in a bill which falsely claimed to be expanding and reforming the freedom of information regime, an amendment which would have set back the regime to make it practically unworkable was itself concealed from the Senate committee by being treated as a technical minor amendment. That is hardly freedom of information; a conspiracy to conceal highly material information from the Senate committee would be a better description."
The focus now shifts to when the new era is to commence, and how it all will work in practice.