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Wednesday, 27 October 1993
Page: 2669


Senator SPINDLER (7.14 p.m.) —The Australian Democrats will be supporting this amendment. It is an amendment that the Democrats have sought to achieve in this chamber for a number of years. The main problem with a conclusive certificate for internal working documents being issued by the minister is that, by issuing that conclusive certificate, the minister essentially has a prima facie case.

   The review is extremely limited. It is limited to whether the public interest is well served by the minister's decision. It is not possible for contra-arguments on the issue of public interest to be advanced in that review. This means that the balance of public interest which, in such a matter, should be properly addressed, cannot be addressed. We believe that it is not justified to restrict in this way information concerning the process of government that citizens are entitled to. Very clearly, it is one of the principles of democratic government that the process of government is transparent, whereas this provision is clearly designed to make it opaque. The Australian Democrats will be supporting this amendment.