Update 29/9: Senator Jacqui Lambie has said she won’t support the the offending Schedule 3 of the bill meaning it’s unlikely to pass.
Defying the facts, bringing the law into disrepute, undermining the federal system and the system of responsible government, and reducing government accountability and transparency were what Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Sydney, says this bill would do.
Recall the mess created by the Coalition in making ‘National Cabinet’ documents secret claiming it was a committee of Federal Cabinet? Crossbench Senator Rex Patrick challenged this with an FOI request for the minutes, rules, and procedures of the first National Cabinet meeting. The Government refused. Justice White at the AAT found that the ‘National Cabinet’ was no such thing.
The Government’s response with this COAG bill (which effectively replaces COAG) can only be described as a ham-fisted retaliation and a determination to keep information as secret as possible. The original COAG made public its record of meetings and was subject to FOI.
This bill is a dummy spit – but with serious accountability ramifications.
It grabs power and tramples all over our right to know which is already compromised by FOI rejections, long delays and redactions.
With this bill, Commonwealth and State relations would be significantly changed with the states and territories effectively becoming subservient to the Prime Minister.
I cannot for the life of me understand why they [the states and territories] would sign up to the National Cabinet being treated as nothing more than a committee of the Commonwealth Cabinet. This would traduce their power and role in the federation.Professor Anne Twomey
Unless of course they are just as keen to keep secrets!
Read more on this:
Professor Twomey’s submission to the Senate inquiry