Aussie govt lobbyists kept secret for bizarre security reasons
The bizarre reason Parliament House won’t tell us who has a security pass
Of all the excuses I’ve heard for withholding public information, my latest run-in with parliamentary authorities wins the prize for the most creative.
For more than eight months I’ve been trying to get hold of a list of organisations holding lobbyist security passes to Parliament House in Canberra. I’m not even asking for the names of individual pass holders, just a list of the organisations holding “sponsored” passes and how many each of them has.
Releasing the information should be a no-brainer. Knowing who has unrestricted access to politicians in Canberra — as well as extensive use of parliament’s publicly funded facilities, let’s not forget — is fundamental to a healthy democracy. That’s why lists of passholders have long been routinely published in other countries including the US, the UK and New Zealand.
It is hard to make a sensible argument why this information should remain hidden from public scrutiny. What possible excuse, then, could parliamentary authorities come up with for rejecting my request?
This one: contempt of parliament. The Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 defines it as “improper interference with the free exercise by a House or committee of its authority or functions, or with the free performance by a member of the member’s duties as a member”.
It is a serious offence, punishable by a hefty fine and a jail sentence of up to six months. Bracing myself, I went back to ask what the hell contempt of parliament has got to do with security passes for lobbyists.
For the rest of this article please go to source link below.