While Attorney-General George Brandis has steadfastly refused to release his diary of meetings, his own department appears somewhat more compliant with the freedom of information law it administers. In response to a request released last month, the department released calendar events of meetings between agencies about the promosed plebiscite.

Plebiscite meeting note

The result (unfortunately not online, because AGD insists it can’t upload FOI docs to its disclosure log because it doesn’t meet accessibility guidelines) is not that exciting and just shows inter-departmental meetings with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, Finance, PM&C, Treasury, and the AEC about the plebiscite in the lead-up to the introduction of the legislation.

But the simplicity of the response could potentially pave the way for Brandis to ultimately produce his own calendar diary in response to shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus’ FOI request from 2014. Brandis’ office has insisted the request was too much work, and there were national security risks, but he lost a full Federal Court case in September, and the deadline for him to file an application to the High Court to appeal the decision lapsed last month. Brandis’ office is now required to process the two-year-old FOI request. Dreyfus’ office also recently filed an FOI request for Brandis’ meetings with groups supportive of and opposed to same-sex marriage in a bid to validate Brandis’ claim that he had had meetings with all sides before the introduction of the plebiscite legislation.

Peter Fray

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