Mark Dreyfus MP

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Morrison Tries To Cover Up His National Cabinet Humiliation

02 September 2021

Just weeks after he was humiliated by a Federal Court Judge over his delusional and arrogant attempt to make meetings of First Ministers exempt from public scrutiny by calling it “National Cabinet”, Mr Morrison is now trying to get the Parliament to overturn the umpire’s ruling.

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS 
 
MORRISON TRIES TO COVER UP HIS NATIONAL CABINET HUMILIATION

Just weeks after he was humiliated by a Federal Court Judge over his delusional and arrogant attempt to make meetings of First Ministers exempt from public scrutiny by calling it “National Cabinet”, Mr Morrison is now trying to get the Parliament to overturn the umpire’s ruling.
 
Mr Morrison claimed that simply labelling something part of “the Cabinet” made it part of the Cabinet.
 
But earlier this month he was given a reality check in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal when Justice Richard White held that: 

The mere use of the name “National Cabinet” does not, of itself, have the effect of making a group of persons using the name a “committee of the Cabinet”. Nor does the mere labelling of a committee as a “Cabinet committee” have that effect.

Justice White found National Cabinet documents were not eligible for a blanket exemption from Freedom of Information requests because “none of the subject documents is an official record of a committee of the Cabinet”.
 
And Justice White rejected outright the Commonwealth’s argument that the one and only essential feature of a federal Cabinet committee is that it has been established as such a Cabinet committee by the Australian Prime Minister.”

This seemed tantamount to a submission that any committee may be a “committee of the Cabinet” for the purposes of the FOI Act merely because the Prime Minister of the day has purported to establish it as such. This premise is unsound. 

Now, after having his tricky marketing ploy to rebadge COAG as “National Cabinet” overturned in the AAT Mr Morrison has introduced legislation to try to hide his meetings with Premiers and Chief Ministers from Freedom of Information requests.
 
This is a Government addicted to secrecy.
 
It sends police to raid journalists who dare to tell the Australian public what their government is up to, it won’t answer questions in the Parliament, it shuts down questioning in Senate Estimates and does everything it can to stop the public finding out about what it’s up to.
 
At a time when record amounts of taxpayers’ funds are being spent responding to the pandemic, the Australian people have every right to be kept informed about what is being done in their name.
 
THURSDAY, 2 SEPTEMBER 2021