A Brisbane nurse will take the Governor-General's office to the Federal Court to try to force it to reveal how it allocates Australia Day honours.
Karen Kline sought access in 2009 to documents that outline how the Order of Australia council decides who is worthy of the awards.
The Governor-General's office rejected her request and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled last month the office was right to suppress the papers.
However, Ms Kline has gained the pro bono support of a legal firm and will launch an appeal in the Federal Court.
Independent freedom-of-information expert Peter Timmins has also questioned the tribunal's decision, saying it allows Government House to be unduly secretive.
Ms Kline said yesterday the decision had ''disturbing ramifications for FoI in this country'', which she would fight.
The nurse has twice failed to access information held by the office. In 2007, she sought access to documents about her unsuccessful nomination of an anti-discrimination advocate for an award.
In 2009, she asked for ''working manuals, policy guidelines and criteria related to the administration of awards within the Order of Australia''.
The Governor-General's office has a special right, under the federal FoI Act, to suppress all of its documents other than those relating to ''administrative'' matters.
Tribunal deputy president Philip Hack said in his decision last month the awards' decision-making processes ''occurred behind closed doors for good reason''.
''Choices have to be made between the nominees, and unsuccessful nominees may be upset when they are overlooked. Making those choices is akin to a judicial function that involves the exercise of delicate judgment.''
However, Mr Timmins said last week that Mr Hack's reasoning ''doesn't explain how this 'closed-doors' imperative is a relevant consideration when it comes to the manuals, guidelines and criteria for awards''.
''Why such documents need protection because disclosure would impact on 'frank advice', 'compromise the integrity of the process in the public mind' or 'muddy the waters' remains a mystery …'' he wrote in an analysis of the decision.
''The broader public policy issue that deserves further consideration is why criteria and guidelines used in determining Australian honours awards are not published or accessible. Arguably, documents of this kind are the type that Parliament intended should be made publicly available by every government agency.''
Last year, the Governor-General's official secretary, Stephen Brady, commissioned one of his predecessors, Martin Bonsey, to review the office's awards and appointments procedures. Mr Bonsey's findings, published in February, warned against allowing people to appeal against the Order of Australia council's decisions.
''My starting point is the lack of right or entitlement any nominee has to receive an honour.''
Mr Bonsey also wrote the nature of decisions about honours was ''largely intuitive rather than analytical''.