Comments about Freedom of Information made by Mr Michael Parkinson

Mark R. Diamond made this Freedom of Information request to Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The request was successful.

From: Mark R. Diamond

Delivered

Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

In an article in the Canberra Times of 11 April 2016 headed "Australia's top public servants call for FOI reform to hide advice from public" (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national..., Martin Parkinson was reported as having made various statements about amendments to the Freedom of Information Act. Broadly, the Canberra Times article claimed that Mr Parkinson had said (a) "The FOI act does not afford sufficient protection to public servants" , (b) "As leaders we need to use exemptions appropriately, but I would support going further and advocating for changes to FOI laws to protect the deliberative process." (c) "[This is] not to reduce our accountability, nor to protect us from stuff ups we may have made, but to enhance the capacity to give truly frank and fearless advice that good policy design needs."

I would like to know the answer to the following question" "Did the comments made by Martin Parkinson reflect (i) Government policy, or (ii) the official position of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, or (iii) his private personal views?" If it is possible to provide a simple answer to that question under administrative arrangements or through some other avenue, then that would be most convenient, least onerous and probably the most transparent.

If it is not possible to answer that question then please treat this as a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the following: any (single) document created by DPMC between 1 January 2016 and 11 April 2016 indicating that the reported comments reflect the official position of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. If some further limitation is absolutely necessary to avoid a practical refusal decision, I would seek only a document actually created by or for Martin Parkinson.

Yours faithfully,

Mark R. Diamond

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From: Mark R. Diamond

Delivered

Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

This is a follow-up to my recent email and question regarding the status of comments about the Freedom of Information Act reportedly made by Dr Martin Parkinson (incorrectly referred to in the header of my previous email as Mr Michael Parkinson).

I simply wish to draw to your attention to the fact that the APSC was able to reply to a recent question of mine --- regarding similar comments made by Commissioner John Lloyd --- with a statement to the effect that the comments were the Commissioner's private views and not reflective of any official position (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/c... ). The advantage of their response was that it avoided the cumbersome machinery of the FOI Act.

Yours faithfully,

Mark R. Diamond

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From: FOI
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

UNCLASSIFIED
Dear Mr Diamond

Dr Parkinson was asked to provide some closing remarks and commentary on the implications of the Shergold report for the Australian Public Service going forward. He did this in his role as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

You can view a video or read a transcript of the comments that were reported in the Canberra Times at www.act.ipaa.org.au/2016-pastevent-failure.

Regards
Peter

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From: Mark R. Diamond

Delivered

Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

Thank you for the information regarding Dr Parkinson's comments about the Freedom of Information Act. Please treat the matter as closed.

Yours faithfully,

Mark R. Diamond

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