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Wednesday, 17 August 2005
Page: 91

Senator BROWN (3:58 PM) —by leave—Let us be clear: this is simply the government going into cover-up mode because it has the numbers. It is not about just one document. It is about a whole series of documents, because this government has been embarrassed by the Senate committee system and the Senate’s ability to extract documents from it in the past. It is not going to have that ability into the future. We now have a government which is into cover-up, secrecy, repression of information and denying the people the knowledge that they ought to have. There were documents being requested today to do with mental health—with the lives of people in the Australian community—and the minister gets up and says, ‘They were prepared for cabinet.’ But with whose money? It is taxpayers’ money. This is all part of the taxpayer-funded information flow—information which should flow out into the public arena.

The Senate is asking for these documents and the government are saying no. It is a political decision and it will have been made in the Prime Minister’s office. There is now going to be a brick wall in this Senate to the release of information which the Australian public has a right to have. The government ought to be straight about it and they ought to be honest. They ought to say: ‘Yes, we have pulled the blind down. We do not want the public knowing what is going on. We will spend millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money advertising our point of view, but when it comes to real information about what is going on in this country we will pull the blind down, because we are embarrassed by it.’ That is what is happening today.