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Thursday, March 31, 2011

NSW Incoming government briefs "cabinet documents"

Oh dear, who dreamed this up?

Matthew Moore in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Barry O'Farrell must decide whether to release the ''blue books'' prepared by government officials to brief his administration on key issues after the former government told departments to prepare these documents for an ''incoming cabinet''. Telling departmental heads these briefs are prepared for cabinet has ensured agencies are refusing requests for access to them on the grounds they are cabinet documents and not accessible under the new state freedom of information law called GIPAA - Government Information (Public Access) Act.
Protection from disclosure of a document prepared for consideration by Cabinet is watertight, not a matter for the exercise of discretion, under the GIPA act Schedule 1 Clause 2.

(1)  It is to be conclusively presumed that there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of information contained in...:
(b)  a document prepared for the dominant purpose of its being submitted to Cabinet for Cabinet’s consideration (whether or not the document is actually submitted to Cabinet),
There might be a few factual issues when it comes to dealing with GIPA applications- the nature of the instruction, was submission to cabinet the dominant purpose etc.

But ministers retain a general discretion to release information outside the act, so over to the Premier and his ministerial colleagues to start telling the news....

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