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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 2329

Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister for Jobs and Innovation) (09:31): I table a document relating to the order for the production of documents concerning funding for the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia. As minister representing the Attorney-General, I wish to advise the Senate of the government's position in relation to Senate motion No. 733. This is an order for the production of documents requesting the tabling of the KPMG report into the funding of the federal courts and the Ernst & Young costings in response to the KPMG report. You'd be aware that I have now tabled a response in relation to this motion whereby the Attorney-General has claimed public interest immunity over these documents. That is set out in detail in the response provided by the Attorney-General.

I can advise the Senate in summary, however, that public interest immunity has been claimed on the following basis by the Attorney-General. The reports have been and will continue to be relied on in future government decision-making processes on court structure, administration and financial arrangements, and their continued utility relies on them being treated with a degree of confidentiality. Input and advice to these reports from stakeholders, especially the federal courts, was provided on the basis of assurances that information provided, including sensitive and specific staffing information, would be treated confidentially. Disclosure of the reports would be expected to limit the extent to which stakeholders, in particular the federal courts, would engage fully future reports of this kind even if given assurances of confidentiality over information provided. This would result in future reports not being fully informed by full and frank advice and the government would not receive the most comprehensive advice from its portfolio departments and agencies. For these reasons, the Attorney-General has claimed public interest immunity over the documents requested and I refer honourable senators to the Attorney-General's correspondence to the Senate President as tabled.