Why the nation needs the crossbench

Thanks to Senator Rex Patrick for successfully challenging the so-called national cabinet and all its secrecy.

Yesterday Justice Richard White of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled that the national cabinet was not a sub-committee of the Federal Cabinet and its deliberations were therefore not protected from FOI requests.

“But in any event, as will be seen, the evidence does not support a conclusion that the prime minister ‘established’ the national cabinet. All the evidence provided to the tribunal concerning the establishment of the national cabinet was secondary in nature. That is to say, the tribunal did not receive evidence from any primary participant who could give first hand evidence of its establishment.”

Justice Richard White, AAT 5 Aug 2021

Looks like a COAG, quacks like a COAG, and was therefore never a cabinet!

The two major parties have always opposed accountability reforms that might restrict their scope for secrecy and cover-up. Think resistance to an integrity commission with teeth, cutting funding to watchdog agencies like the Auditor-General, deals that are ‘commercial-in-confidence’, secret casino licenses, secret trials for whistleblowers, and out-of-court settlements.

Now we might just find out more about what vested interests spawned the expensive ‘gas-led recovery‘ which, as expected, has done no such thing.

The Democrats drove numerous accountability and transparency reforms in their time in the Parliament including requiring the Government to provide the Parliament with a list of all contracts entered into worth $100,000 or more – the so-called Murray Motion after Democrats Senator Andrew Murray. See here for an example.

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