Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Parliamentary Service Amendment (Freedom of Information) Bill 2013; In Committee
I move Greens amendment (2) on sheet 7391 revised:
(2) Schedule 1, page 3 (lines 1 to 26), omit Schedule 1, substitute:
Freedom of Information Act 1982
6B Department of the House of Representatives, Department of the Senate and Department of Parliamentary Services
1 After section 6A
(1) This Act does not apply to any request for access to a document of the Department of the House of Representatives, the Department of the Senate or the Department of Parliamentary Services unless the document relates to matters of an administrative nature.
(2) For the avoidance of doubt, the reference to a document of an administrative nature in subsection (1) does not include research or advice provided to a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives by the Parliamentary Library.
(3) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this section limits or infringes the powers, privileges and immunities of the Houses of the Parliament.
This limits FOI applications to documents of an administrative matter only. It really should be difficult for Labor and the coalition to justify not supporting this lesser second amendment. I call it a lesser second amendment because it is a much reduced form of FOI. Even the parliamentary departments—the Department of the Senate, the Department of the House of Representatives and the Department of Parliamentary Services—have publicly supported this position. They are okay with this degree of openness. So, it will be interesting to hear the minister as to why they are not ready to support this amendment when the departments themselves are comfortable with it. For those three departments and office holders, while they are subject to the FOI Act, this amendment limits access to administrative matters only and this amendment excludes research or advice to members of parliament provided by the Parliamentary Library. It makes it explicit that nothing limits or affects any privileges, immunities or powers of the House of Representatives or the Senate. I do commend Greens amendment (2) to the Senate.