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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26122

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (12:22 PM) —As much as I would like to blame the opposition for delay in reaching its amendments, I have to acknowledge that in this instance the responsibility lies with the crossbenches and in particular with Senator Brown who has engaged in a filibuster—

Senator Brown —Where's your amendment?

Senator HILL —We have not got to Labor amendments on the list. We are way off that because we have spent three days debating four amendments—three from the Greens and one from the Democrats—and we have repeated the same arguments over and over again. With regard to the issue of the Freedom of Information Act, the advice that I have received is much as I expected. Obviously an action under that Commonwealth legislation would be limited to information held on the Australian government side, that is, by the Commonwealth, or to information that the Commonwealth could reasonably be expected to have access to. The normal exceptions under the FOI Act obviously apply. They include: section 33, national security damage or damage to international relations; section 42, legal professional privilege; section 43, commercial-in-confidence; section 44, national economy. So the act applies but the extent to which access would be given would depend on the detail of the request, what is sought, and whether any of those specific exceptions would be relevant to the request.