The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) welcomes the introduction today by Nicola Roxon, Shadow Attorney General, into Federal Parliament of a private members bill to abolish conclusive certificates from the Freedom of Information Act.
Currently, a Minister may decide that information does not have to be released to members of the general public if they believe it is in the public interest not to do so.
Robin Banks, Chief Executive Officer of PIAC, said:
‘The Freedom of Information Act provides a number of exemptions that allow government to refuse the public access to information. While some of the exemptions in legislation designed to provide access to information is understandable, Ministerial certificates are a particularly problematic form of exemption and result in a serious loss of government accountability to the public.’
‘They enable a Minister to decide whether or not an exemption will apply. That is incompatible with accountable and transparent government and is open to abuse.’
‘Accordingly we welcome this announcement of the tabling of a private members bill aimed at removing the Ministerial certificates. We look forward to bipartisan support for it.’
‘The next step is the removal of some of the other exemptions that restrict the public’s right to access information.’
MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169