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Thursday, 5 December 1974
Page: 4779

Mr Snedden asked the Special Minister of State, upon notice:

(   1 ) How many refusals in respect of access to archives have there been since 2 December 1 972.

(2)   Who was refused access and for what reason, and who refused access in each case.

Mr Lionel Bowen - The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(I)   and (2) The Australian Archives has no record of persons having been refused access to archives on a personal basis. Any restrictions of archives from release are based on the nature of the records concerned or the period of their creation, and apply to all searchers equally. In some cases a person may be granted special conditional access to archives not available to the general public.

The reason for restriction of public access to archives would be either that they were created after 3 1 December 1 945 and hence came within the closed access period, or that they were in the following categories of records not normally released for public access:

(i)   exceptionally sensitive papers, the disclosure of which would be contrary to the public interest, whether on security or other grounds (including the need to safeguard the revenue).

(ii)   documents containing information supplied in confidence, the disclosure of which would or might constitute a breach of good faith; and

(iii)   documents containing information about individuals, the disclosure of which would cause distress or embarrassment to living persons or their immediate descendants.

Decisions to withhold records are based on examination carried out by the staff of the Australian Archives with the advice of appropriate departments where necessary. Decisions are open to review.

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