The Attorney General’s Department continues it’s ultra-conservative approach to transparency and freedom of information, by denying what is essentially ‘only metadata’ for its most senior bureaucrat, the Department’s Secretary Roger Wilkins. Explaining that the information does not exist in discrete form and that it would take 35.5 working days to provide 4 months of Mr. Wilkins’ appointment diary, telephone logs, records of entertainment received and any gifts received, Corporate Counsel Maggie Jackson spuriously refused access to the information because it would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of this Department.
I had initially requested 24 months of the aforementioned metadata — but this was estimated to take, at a minimum, 187.5 days for officers to sift through, collate, redact and provide in a format adequate for the Australian public’s consumption. It’s important to note here, I was not after content data, what the meetings were in regards to — but ‘only metadata’. You know, who the Secretary talked to, what organisations, whether there were any gifts or entertainment received, not wholly unlike the metadata the Attorney-Generals Department seems intent on mandating the collection of. Information you’d think, the Department would keep in discrete form, as a matter of course, for one of the most senior and powerful public servants in its employ. Queries as to why such records were not kept in discrete form with regards to the revision of scope were of course entirely ignored.
The AGD and its officers continue to advocate and drive for the implementation of astonishing powers for law enforcement and spy agencies, that erode the civil liberties and privacy of every Australian, legitimising already ongoing illegal practices that violate fundamental human rights. They continue to advocate for an industry cosy with the Department, arranging back door negotiations and directing Departmental resources to craft laws that would attack sharing and copy culture, necessarily requiring the surveillance of everyone. But any scrutiny that should normally be applied to the powerful public servants that advocate for the dramatic shifts in Australian law, is just too damn hard. Ain’t no Department got time fo’ that.