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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Feds confirm conclusive certificate powers to go

Here is what the Acting Prime Minister told the Maritime Union of Australia yesterday about work going on within the Government on the issue of conclusive certificates, including whether anything should be done concerning certificates issued years ago that are still current and protect documents about the Howard Government involvement in the 1998 waterfront battle.

"The 1998 MUA dispute is now part of this nation’s history and it will continue to be studied and discussed for years to come.I understand the concern of those who worry that the full history is not yet known, because the Howard Government engaged in a cover up.The previous Government's practice of issuing conclusive certificates under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 was a practice that the Australian Labor Party objected to at the time and it is a practice we oppose now.
Our policy is to end their use in FOI applications, and we will deliver on that promise.Prohibiting access to documents under the FOI system should not be left to the whim of a Minister. Rigorous and independent decision making within our public institutions is critical for an effective FOI system.The previous Government, with the flick of a pen, put documents out of reach and out of access - without any form of appeal. The Rudd Government is committed to ensuring that no FOI decisions will be quarantined from procedures for review. No decisions have yet been made on how our changes to the FOI laws, which will prevent conclusive certificates being issued in the future, should deal with conclusive certificates issued in the past. That issue needs to be considered as part of our changes to the legal framework."

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