Compliance with orders which require the release of government information has fallen under the Albanese government, a think tank reports, as it calls for more oversight of the transparency tool.
The Centre for Public Integrity found compliance with Senate production orders, which require government documents to be created and made public, has declined to 20.4 per cent, compared with a rate of 92 per cent during 1993-96.
Compliance has also fallen from the rate of 48.7 per cent under the Morrison government.
Governments are able to resist making documents public by claiming it is in the public interest that the information remains secret.
These claims are usually made on the basis that the information would damage Australia's national security or relations between the Commonwealth and states, disclose cabinet deliberations, prejudice an investigation, disclose confidential sources in relation to law enforcement or damage Commonwealth commercial relations.
The report found the Albanese government has made public interest immunity claims at a more consistent rate than the previous government
As at February 22, the government had made 28 public interest claims over 211 days in power, evening out to about one per week. This compares with 47 claims made under the Morrison government over 1014 days, a rate off about one claim every three weeks.
The report notes that it is not possible to assess whether or not the claims are "bogus", but regardless, the system is failing to provide crucial access to government information.
The think tank is calling for the creation of an Independent Transparency Monitor, to weigh in on disputed privilege claims.
Senators who were blocked from accessing information through immunity claims could apply to the independent monitor, which would then assess documents and decide whether to uphold secrecy or release the information.
If the government failed to provide the monitor access to documents, a "secrecy finding" could be made against them, as a means of discouraging this behaviour.
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