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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 4857


Senator LUDWIG (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) (11:59 AM) —I understand that Senator Ludlam believes that it is not an anomaly. It does rectify an anomaly. The effect of the measure that the government proposes in item 2 of schedule 1 of the bill will be to exclude a document from the FOI Act that is held by a minister and has been received from or has originated with an intelligence agency. The purpose is to have the policy that applies now to non-intelligence agencies apply to ministers, which is what I highlighted previously in amendment (2). It would not be logical to treat intelligence agency documents in the hands of ministers differently to when these documents are in the hands of agencies.

The government believes there is a strong case for wholly excluding intelligence agencies and their documents—both in the hands of agencies and ministers—from the operation of the FOI Act. It would otherwise mean that intelligence agencies would have an exemption for their documents which go to non-intelligence agencies, but ministers would then not be able to view those documents on the basis that an anomalous position could arise where ministers, not being exempt, would then have an FOI request placed on them for those documents. The document may then be otherwise subject to the FOI provisions.