The recent deletion of freedom of information requests relating to Christian Porter’s ‘blind trust’ by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has highlighted important gaps in Australia's freedom of information regime.
Under long-standing freedom of information laws, pending requests can be deleted when a minister leaves their role, creating a loophole for scandal-plagued ministers to avoid scrutiny.
The freedom of information regime is already notoriously plagued by underfunding and unreasonable delays, with some information only made available years down the track, when it has become irrelevant or obsolete.
These issues have resulted in a significant deterioration of the utility of the FOI regime over the past few years, and, subsequently, diminished the accountability of our public institutions and those who serve them, resulting in the erosion of Australians’ confidence in the integrity of public institutions, politicians and government.
We wrote to the Attorney General Michaelia Cash and the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese to raise these issues and support Senator Rex Fitzpatrick's push to close the loophole.