Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas today accused the Weatherill Labor Government of being the most secretive Government in the State’s history.
Premier Weatherill and his Ministers have fought for almost 12 months against the release of the names of all the staff employed in the Ministers’ office. Mr. Weatherill employs almost 300 staff in Ministers’ offices and over the years they have included former Labor candidates, MPs, supporters and family members of Labor MPs. A minority of them are gazetted (eg. Chief of Staff, Media Advisors) once a year but the majority are not revealed publicly.
The Weatherill Government has refused FOI applications arguing that releasing the names to the Liberal Party ‘could endanger the life or physical safety of these individuals’!
This information has been regularly released under FOI for almost 15 years but for some reason Mr. Weatherill and his Ministers have been desperate to prevent the release of this information before the 2018 election.
People are rightly suspicious of what the Weatherill Government is trying to hide.
Finally after a long battle the Ombudsman ruled against the Weatherill Government and has ordered the release of the information.
The ridiculous claims used by the Weatherill Government were dismissed conclusively by the Ombudsman.
“In my view the agency has not justified its conclusion that the release of the document could be reasonably be expected to endanger the physical safety of Department staff.
In reaching this conclusion I note that even though Ministerial staff are already subject to their names being publically released and have been for some time, my attention has not been brought to any instances of their physical safety having been threatened as a result of such publication”
The Ombudsman also noted that contrary to the Weatherill Government’s claims some staff have revealed publicly on their Facebook sites that they worked in a Minister’s office.
The Weatherill Government has wasted considerable money, time and resources in fighting this case. Mr. Weatherill’s own Chief of Staff Daniel Romeo, the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment and Crown Law all made submissions trying to stop the release of the information.
Mr. Weatherill should now accept this decision of the independent umpire and not waste even more taxpayers’ money by appealing the decision to the Courts.
Mr Weatherill, his Ministers and his whole Government are simply obsessed with secrecy and this case demonstrates what ridiculous lengths they will go to prevent the release of information which might embarrass them.