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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Australia Day Honours are a closed book

A bit of interest today in transparency amid controversy over decisions on honours awards by the Australia Day Council .

Are decisions or any other documents held by the Council Secretariat (staff in the Office of the Governor General) subject to FOI?


 This from my blog in 2013: 
"The High Court in Kline v Official Secretary to the Governor General [2013] HCA 52) ruled that documents concerning the operation of the Honours system are not within scope of the Freedom of Information Act. The decision ends a long running legal tussle regarding interpretation and application of s 6A which places the Official Secretary's office (among its other support functions, it is the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat) outside the operation of the act "unless the document relates to matters of an administrative nature."
 More here

Nothing has changed since. 

Calls for FOI reform on a wide range of fronts have got nowhere.

Seven years of coalition government and the most notable contribution to FOI in that time is the eventually unsuccessful attempt in 2014 to abolish the Office of Australian Information Commissioner.

Among the mostly uncontroversial awards was the well deserved Order of Australia OA for Fiona McLeod SC, the Chair of the Accountability Round Table and a former Chair of Transparency International Australia and the Open Government Forum, among many other wonderful accomplishments. Congratulations Fiona.

Have a thoughtful Australia Day.

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