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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 4855

Senator LUDWIG (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) (11:53 AM) —The government does not support this amendment. The effect of item 2 is to repeal the existing exclusion from the FOI Act that applies to documents in the possession of non-intelligence agencies that have been received from the intelligence agencies and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The purpose of this exclusion is to provide for consistency in the application of the FOI Act to a document of an intelligence agency or the IGIS. Intelligence agencies and the IGIS are now wholly excluded. Intelligence agencies cannot realistically be expected to carry out their functions with the same level of transparency ordinarily expected of administrative action. As a class, though it is the document, these documents could be expected to be almost all exempt if an access application were to be made. The government believes a strong case exists for wholly excluding intelligence agencies and their documents, both in the hands of agencies and ministers for the operation of the FOI Act. It is otherwise to ensure consistency in respect of a document.