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Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Page: 2160


Senator McEWEN (South AustraliaOpposition Whip in the Senate) (16:56): At the request of Senator Collins, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) rejects the public interest immunity claim made by the Minister for Finance and the Special Minister of State, Senator Cormann, on Thursday, 3 March 2016, asserting that the disclosure of communications between ministers, ministerial staff, departmental officers and the Australian Electoral Commission relating to changes to voting laws on the grounds 'that this would disclose information that formed part of the deliberations of Cabinet' and that 'disclosure of this material would be contrary to the public interest';

(b) further rejects the decision of the Minister to claim public interest immunity on redacted portions of other documents 'on the grounds that some relate to Cabinet deliberations; to the commercial interests of the Commonwealth which would be harmed in the event of disclosure; and to the private information of Commonwealth officers (including junior officer information)'; and

(c) orders that there be laid on the table by the Special Minister of State, no later than noon on Thursday, 17 March 2016, all documents recording communications with the Australian Electoral Commission by:

(i) the Minister for Finance,

(ii) the Acting Special Minister of State,

(iii) the Special Minister of State, and

(iv) the Department of Finance,

relating to proposed changes to the Senate voting system, including the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016, since 1 September 2015.

Question agreed to.