Mark Dreyfus MP

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Morrison's Move To Cloak National Cabinet In Secrecy Exposed

28 September 2021

A Senate inquiry has heard damning evidence about the impact of Scott Morrison move to cloak National Cabinet in secrecy – his latest arrogant attack on democracy and the public’s right to know.  

MARK DREYFUS 
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL 
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM 
MEMBER FOR ISAACS  


MORRISON’S MOVE TO CLOAK NATIONAL CABINET IN SECRECY EXPOSED  

A Senate inquiry has heard damning evidence about the impact of Scott Morrison move to cloak National Cabinet in secrecy – his latest arrogant attack on democracy and the public’s right to know.  

Scott Morrison thought that he could exempt National Cabinet from Freedom of Information requests simply by labelling it part of “the Cabinet”. 

However, Justice Richard White found documents of National Cabinet were not eligible for a blanket exemption because “none of the subject documents is an official record of a committee of the Cabinet”. 

Mr Morrison’s response to this decision was not to appeal and face another humiliating rebuff, but to rush in legislation which is now before a Senate committee.  

Monday’s committee hearing has made clear just how draconian and bizarre Mr Morrison’s bill is and how even his own department struggles to defend it, with officials admitting they could not point to any specific harm caused by the release of documents ordered by Justice White. 

Respected constitutional lawyer Professor Anne Twomey denounced the bill as "frankly bizarre legislation" that brought parliament into disrepute and would undermine federalism and the Constitution. "It's just a mess and it shows disrespect for the people, for the courts, everyone to go around asserting in legislation things that aren't true.” 

The Australian Information Commissioner Angelene Falk made clear the bill was unnecessary and warned “it is a diminution of Australians access to information rights.” 

Australian Human Rights Commission President Rosemary Croucher was even more blunt: “It is important to ensure that executive power is not unnecessarily and permanently expanded through hastily enacted measures during a period of emergency, as this would have negative implications for democratic principles and the rule of law.” 

At a time when record amounts of taxpayers’ funds are being spent responding to the pandemic, and as the scandal-plagued Morrison-Joyce Government continues to engage in unprecedented rorts and blatant cover-ups, the Australian people have every right to be kept informed about what the federal Government is doing in their name, and with their money. 

Scott Morrison’s delusional and arrogant attempt to further feed his addiction to secrecy and deceit has been exposed.

TUESDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2021