Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Greens policy costings a minor FOI cause celebre
The House of Representatives last night spent close to an hour and a half debating a private member's motion that "calls on The Treasury and the Department of Finance and Deregulation to release all costings of policy proposals that the Australian Greens have formally submitted to the Government for analysis since the 2010 Federal Election." And it's not finished yet-debate was adjourned, but certain to go nowhere in the end.
The issue emerged in July when the Opposition sought access to these documents under the Freedom of information Act only to get a knockback because they were claimed to be cabinet documents, documents submitted or proposed to be submitted to cabinet, and prepared for that dominant purpose. Hard to fathom then and now as was the claim the documents were deliberative documents. No light was thrown on this in parliamentary debate but the mover of the motion Jamie Briggs has sought review of the decision from the Australian Information Commissioner.
There was plenty of attempted points scoring and in all the argy-bargy, the Opposition managed to avoid a commitment to submitting its policies to the Parliamentary Budget Office-a body entirely exempt from the FOI act-prior to the election.