Report portrays Australian culture of secrecy

Australians are the victims of "secretive" public officials too frightened to release vital information which might allow the public to scrutinise them, a report has found. The audit was commissioned by the Australia’s Right to Know Coalition to look at how much information is kept hidden from the media.

It found governments and judges were denying the public “vital information” through secrecy legislation, “flimsy” suppression orders and million-dollar fees for individual Freedom of Information requests (including $1.25m for a report into politicians' travelling expenses).

The report said Australians are unable to learn about a federal government Work Choices poll until after the election; about Victorian serial killer Carl Williams’s murder conviction for two years; and information on the case of Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef, arrested as a terror suspect.

The Australia’s Right to Know Coalition, made up of major media companies including News Limited, owner of the publisher of, said that the audit highlighted a “serious slide into censorship and secrecy” by politicians and judges. “It confirms that Australians are not allowed to know enough about how governments at all levels of our society function and how their courts dispense justice,” it said.

“Without this information, Australians are hampered in their ability to make properly informed judgements about government policy, legislation or the effectiveness of courts.”

Democracy 'at risk' from secretive state (, 5 November 2007)