Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Answers to Questions on Notice
Question No. 3985
That the Senate take note of the minister's answer.
It's really just a repeat of the answer we received last week. I inform the minister that I did advise his office this morning that I was seeking the answer. I did that very early. I rose last week to seek an explanation expressing my concern about my question relating to the national cabinet. There's a bit of irony in what the minister said, because part 2 of this question is one I've had to ask three times. Three times I've had to ask the question because in subsequent answers the Prime Minister has simply said 'no charges have been levied at this point'. That relates to a matter that was before the AAT not this year but last year, where the Prime Minister also lost an FOI. I understand there may be lots of questions but this is one that has been asked for a third time.
The question I am seeking an answer on relates to the cost of proceedings in the AAT and how much the Prime Minister is spending trying to defend untenable FOI exemption positions. I don't understand why the Prime Minister's staff can't just go to the accounting system and get the answer for me.
In moving a take note motion last time, I expressed a serious concern regarding a recent decision by a senior official in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to override Justice White's decision that national cabinet is not a committee of the cabinet. That's right: a bureaucrat overturned a judge of the Federal Court on the meaning of a statutory expression.
Since becoming a senator I have submitted about 200 FOIs. If I had to guess, it's probably on the north side of 200. I've not liked some of the decisions I've received, but, in those cases, I've appealed them.