Six month wait for a lot of blank paper

02 Jul 2012 | Broadband, Communications & the Digital Economy

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam made Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Attorney General, and their departments in December seeking cables and documents on the possible extradition of Julian Assange to the United States. Six months later, the Department has handed over a pointless collection of trivia, blank paper and documents that were already in the public domain.

“I have wrestled for six months with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for a remarkably disappointing set of documents, released on the Friday after Parliament had ended for the winter break.

“After reams of correspondence and appeals to the Information Commissioner, at least I don’t have to pay for this material due to DFAT breaching the timelines stipulated in the Act. Much of the material released is already in the public domain, in the form of press reports and court judgements or records of meetings I attended.

“Again I have received redacted versions of my own Questions on Notice. Again, I have received documents that are completely blank and meaningless.

“We now have confirmation that Mr Rudd was asking questions about this issue while he was the Foreign Minister. We learn nothing further about what our government has done to support Australian journalist and publisher Julian Assange against extradition to the US.

“We do not learn if the government has argued against his prosecution due to protections under the First Amendment or any other reasons. Given criticism of how it has handled this case and very broad public concern for Assange in Australia, surely the government would be eager to disclose any such efforts.

We can only conclude the government is running scared and has failed to raise any complaint or objection to Assange being prosecuted in the US for his work as a journalist and publisher.

“The effort on my part, and the delays and results produced by the Department makes a mockery of the FOI system, which has serious implications for all Australians. I will be requesting an internal review of this set of documents and will pursue my complaint with the Information Commissioner.”

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