People caught breaching the public health orders will face fines of $5000 and a $320 stay-at-home payment will be introduced for residents in Sydney’s hotspot areas who need to isolate while waiting for COVID-19 test results.
Ex-CDC chief says he was “threatened” for believing COVID lab leak theory
What is it with the secrecy, ScoMo?
An independent senator has won a legal bid to force the Prime Minister’s office to release secret documents it refused to show the public.
The Prime Minister’s office has lost an attempt to keep the decision-making of national cabinet secret, as a powerful tribunal ruled it is not protected by the same laws that shield Cabinet decisions from public view.
South Australian independent senator Rex Patrick took the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal over its refusal to release information about national cabinet — the body of state premiers and Scott Morrison formed to handle the Covid-19 crisis.
On Thursday, the AAT ruled national cabinet was not protected by cabinet-in-confidence rules and ordered public access be given to meeting minutes as well as other documents.
The department had refused a Freedom of Information request for access to the documents, but the AAT overruled that ruling and ordered they be handed over.
Senator Patrick said the Prime Minister had failed to block scrutiny of national cabinet decision-making on Australia’s Covid-19 response.
“This is a decisive win for transparency and accountability,” he said.
“This is another political, legal and administrative shambles produced by a Prime Minister making things up as he went along.
“Make no mistake, the decision of Justice (Richard) White is absolutely scathing of the government.”
He said the decision showed “the Prime Minister must operate within the well-established conventions of responsible government and the law”.
A government spokesman said it would review today’s decision, but “will not let it impact the important work national cabinet is doing”.
“national cabinet has worked closely to save lives and livelihoods throughout the pandemic and it has been a critical reform that’s guided Australia’s response,” he said.