Evidence to support claim FOI laws should be changed

Dwayne Brewski made this Freedom of Information request to Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dwayne Brewski

Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

I refer to the article in the Canberra Times, "APS bosses 'self serving' in calls for greater secrecy over FoI laws", published 15 April 2016 (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national...).

I request any documents which detail:
- The nature of suggested changes to FOI laws, and/or
- Evidence to support any related claims made by the department or its staff

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.

Yours faithfully,

Dwayne Brewski

FOI, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


Dear Mr Brewski


We refer to your email below requesting information under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).   You refer to an article in the Canberra
Times published 15 April 2016, and request access to documents which


·         the nature of suggested changes to FOI laws, and/or

·         evidence to support any related claims made by the department or
its staff.


The article refers to a panel discussion that was hosted by the ACT
Division of the Institute of Public Administration in Canberra on 11 April
2016. A video of the event is available for viewing at


We note that Professor Peter Shergold AC discussed issues relating to the
provision of confidential advice and recommended an amendment to the FOI
Act in respect of deliberative process documents in his report entitled
‘Learning from Failure’, which was published in August 2015 and is
available at


The issue of FOI reform has also been the subject of extensive public
debate and comment in recent years.  For example, Dr Allan Hawke AC
discussed the ‘deliberative processes’ exemption and recommended
amendments to the FOI Act in his report entitled ‘Review of the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 and Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010’,
which was  published in July 2013 and is available at:  


There are a number of other publically available documents which discuss
related issues, including:


·         Australian Law Reform Commission, Open government: A review of
the federal Freedom of Information Act 1982, available at the ALRC’s

·         Australian Law Reform Commission, Submission to Senate Standing
Committee inquiry into the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill
2009 (Cth) and the Information Commissioner Bill 2009 (Cth), available at
the Parliament House website and the ALRC website

·         Judith Kaye Bannister, ‘Accountability or Participation?
Disentangling the Rationales for FOI Access to Deliberative Material’,
University of Adelaide Law Research Paper No. 2016-12, available at

·         Daniel Stewart, (2005) ‘Assessing Access to Information in
Australia: The impact of freedom of information laws on the scrutiny and
operation of the Commonwealth government’, in New Accountabilities, New
Challenges (2005), ANU Press, available at

·         Simon Murray, (2012) ‘Freedom of Information Reform: Does the
New Public Interest Test for Conditionally Exempt Documents Signal the
Death of the Howard Factors’, University of Tasmania Law Review, Vol
31Issue 1, available at

·         Tony Lupton, (2012) ’Cabinet confidentiality and parliamentary
scrutiny in the information age’, Australasian Parliamentary Review Volume
27 Issue 1, available at


We trust the above information satisfies your request.


As such, we will deem the request to be finalised / withdrawn if we do not
hear from you in the alternative by Monday 23 May 2016. If you wish to
proceed we would be grateful for an extension of time pursuant to section
15AA of the FOI Act (noting that at this stage the decision maker would
expect to notify you of an intention to refuse the request for a practical
refusal reason as your request is unclear as to which specific documents
you are seeking or the timeframe). Please contact the FOI team on 02 6271
5849 or by email at [8][DPMC request email] should you have any query or wish to


Yours sincerely



Peter Arnaudo | Assistant Secretary

Honours, Symbols and Legal Policy Branch | Government Division

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

[9]www.dpmc.gov.au | [10]www.indigenous.gov.au

PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600


The Department acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout
Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We
pay our respects to them and their cultures and to their elders both past
and present.




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