On Monday we will be treated to the theatre of the shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfuss, taking the Attorney-General’s department to the Court of Appeal over a denied freedom of information request regarding George Brandis’ diary for the first six months or so after the Coalition took office.
It appears Mr Dreyfuss wants to demonstrate that Mr Brandis did not consult with anyone about his new national security laws.
Brandis’ office has trotted out the most ridiculous excuses as to why they can’t release the diary under FOI, ranging from it would be too much work, to George’s safety being put at risk if people knew his movements, to some people maybe not wanting anyone knowing they met with George.
The whole thing is bizarre.
Why would Dreyfuss want to prove there was no consultation when his party have already passed the legislation? There may be more to come but surely they should have asked the interested parties’ opinions before they voted yes?
And the idea that knowing who George spoke to 2 years ago could lead to people knowing his travel patterns which “may increase the security threats relating to his personal safety” is ludicrous, as is the department’s assertion that it would take too much time. They have chosen to present a defence in court instead which one would imagine would require even more time.
Not to mention the cost.
Monday is also the day that the Federal Court will hand down its decision on the civil case mounted against Craig Thomson by the Fair Work Commission.
Senate Estimates recently revealed that the cost of this civil matter to the taxpayer thus far has been $4.1Million and as Wixxy points out, that does not include the cost of the criminal case, the police investigation that went for years, the FWA investigation that also went for years, the Senate Inquiry into the FWA investigation, and the KPMG report into the FWA investigation.
The courts have become the plaything of politicians where the cost of scoring political points seems irrelevant to them.
There is no question that our freedom of information is being eroded and must be addressed. Government secrecy is increasing rapidly with Ministers being given unilateral powers not subject to judicial oversight. The right of appeal is being removed in certain cases and security agencies are being given unprecedented protected powers.
As the government increasingly withdraws from transparency and accountability, shrouding their actions in secrecy, they are, at the same time, increasing their powers of surveillance over all of us and removing our rights through special detention and deportation laws.
If Dreyfuss was truly concerned, rather than wasting time and money, he would have voted against this erosion of human rights and done more to force the government to disclose what is being done in our name and to put the threat to national security into true perspective instead of encouraging the hyperbole.
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