A federal government push to make national cabinet deliberations secret is a "solution looking for a problem", says Andrew Barr.
The ACT Chief Minister has also claimed he regularly learns details on upcoming national cabinet via the media, with the Prime Minister's Office regularly briefing journalists.
The Commonwealth has pushed a bill to extend cabinet-in-confidence protections to national cabinet. The move would hamper access key documents documents from the meetings, by making them exempt from freedom of information requests.
Mr Barr on Wednesday questioned the federal government's push for secrecy, saying almost all that happened at national cabinet had been canvassed in the media.
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The agenda for national cabinet was circulated freely among the Parliament press gallery in the days before each meeting. And the Chief Minister said, with national cabinet made up of nine governments each with their own agendas, leaks were inevitable regardless.
"The Prime Minister's Office backgrounds the media ahead of every meeting. I've read about what's going to be coming forward to national cabinet in The Australian and The [Australian] Financial Review pretty regularly in advance of even seeing agenda papers," he said.
"To be frank, there are not that many things there that would be considered so secretive as to not be able to be pretty freely discussed. So the legislation, [is] possibly a solution looking for a problem."
But Mr Barr insisted, while rationales behind decisions should be examined, national cabinet needed the time to work through topics over multiple meetings.
"Once a decision is reached, it should be publicly announced. It's entirely appropriate for questions to be asked on how that decision was reached," he said.
"But I also think it is reasonable that we do have the opportunity to take more than one meeting to consider issues.
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The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had attempted to deny access on the basis they were records of the federal cabinet.
The ruling enabled independent senator Rex Patrick, who brought the challenge, to publish documents from national cabinet meeting son March 15 and May 29.
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