(Image: Private Media/Mitchell Squire)

In the Morrison government’s war on accountability, cabinet confidentiality has become a weapon of choice. A once-rare exemption to freedom of information rules, it is now ritually slapped on all matter of requests, stamping out transparency and broadening the blanket of secrecy over government affairs. 

Now the exemption has been used to block the release of Phil Gaetjens’ report into the sports rorts scandal. The report was initially buried by Gaetjens, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary and Morrison’s former chief of staff, despite a summary finding there were “significant shortcomings” in the way former sports minister Bridget McKenzie decided on the grant.

Media outlets and other parties have since applied for access to the report under FOI laws, but have been rebuffed. They’ve taken their requests to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, where the government has argued the report is covered by Cabinet-in-Confidence, and therefore exempt from the FOI Act.