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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 102


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(8.49) —I am not altogether encouraged to reply to Senator Puplick by the build-up to his question, which suggests that any reply I offer will be worthless. Notwithstanding that, I am happy to assure him that from my understanding of the way in which these provisions would operate and the way in which the statutory authority and the Freedom of Information Act operate, it is inconceivable that a properly made request under the Act for information about some alleged safety issue would not result in the production of the material in question. It is exactly the sort of thing that the FOI Act is available to ensure. It is in the public domain. It ensures that there is a degree of discipline operating on those people who might be minded not to report things that manifestly should be reported. I am indebted to Senator Puplick for reminding me of the operation of the FOI Act-not, I hasten to add, that as a Government Minister I had forgotten about its existence. It is there obviously as a back-up to what would be regarded in most organisations, and certainly will be in this one, as a sensible public interest-minded administration.