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Friday, August 16, 2013

FOI coverage of Governor General's Office off to High Court

I hear that the High Court granted leave to appeal today Friday in the Kline case concerning Freedom of Information coverage of documents about the operation of the Australian Honours system. More when the transcript appears- now here.

 A long line of decisions in the case to date have all gone the Governor General's way, the most recent a unanimous decision of the Federal Court that gave broad interpretation to the exemption from the act for documents held by the Office of the Governor General that relate to matters of an administrative nature.

(See :Jane Lee's report in The Age.)

The recently released Hawke Report rejected submissions that the FOI act should be amended to broaden the scope as it applies to the Office of the Governor General, but gave no reasons (p 64), recommended that the parliamentary departments should be subject to the act to the same extent, and while citing the Federal Court decision by name gave no attention to the Court's interpretation of the relevant words "relates to matters of an administrative nature" (p 62) and its narrowing effect.

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