This blog takes an interest in issues associated with Freedom of Information (FOI) and privacy legislation in Australia. It also includes comment about open transparent and accountable government and related issues generally drawing on developments in Australia and overseas. Information contained on this site is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice.
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Monday, January 28, 2013
Australia Day Honours
Congratulations to those acknowledged for community service in the Australia Day Honours. No FOI or privacy "names" leapt off the page but let me know of any gongs that warrant recognition here.The Order of Australia relies entirely on community nominations. So if you were wondering...
According to the Federal Court the working manuals, policy guidelines and criteria for awards concern the exercise of "substantive power
or function" of the Governor General. As such they are outside the scope Freedom of Information Act. They are not published or otherwise available.
Democrats (Australian variety) might find this hard to cop. So too Republicans (Australian version) when reminded "The Queen is the Sovereign Head of the Order of Australia." Relax, I'm sure royals don't meddle here. Unlike the UK where on a broader scalethe release of papers showing exercise of powers to veto legislation are raising issues concerning lack of transparency over their role in lawmaking. Don't worry about s 59 of our constitution either. The Queen's powers to disallow any law within one year of the
Governor‑General's assent have never been exercised.
Back to the Honours, lawyers (all versions) and citizens might be puzzled that "the
Governor-General is the Principal Companion and as Chancellor is charged
with the administration of the Order" but, as the Federal Court decided, anything to do with the administration of the Order does not relate to matters of an administrative nature.
Enjoy the Australia Day weekend.
Bring on more transparency about the Honours system.
And the Republic.
(Update: Anne Summers on The Drum kicks off a lively discussion on the whole issue.)