The Federal Court’s ruling against Australian FOI editor Michael
McKinnon, which upheld Treasury and Peter Costello’s decision to use
conclusive certificates to reject freedom of information requests is
now available online here.
Justice Tamberlin, who helped form the 2-1 majority has this to say about the murky area of public interest in FOI requests:
The public interest is not one homogenous undivided concept.
It will often be multi-faceted and the decision-maker will have to consider and
evaluate the relative weight of these facets before reaching a final conclusion
as to where the public interest resides… in some contexts,
interests such as public health, national security, anti-terrorism, defence or
international obligations may be of overriding significance when compared with
It doesn’t give journalists much hope when politicians can hide behind
the ambiguous excuses of “national security” and “international
obligations” to justify their stonewalling. You can read McKinnon’s response and summary of the judgment here.