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Question: Ministerial Diaries

30 November 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:18): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General on the topic of ministerial diaries.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, in this place, we debated a motion from the Hon. Frank Pangallo regarding the release of ministerial diaries. The motion sought to require the release of details of diary entries from ministers. In that debate the Attorney-General stated, and I quote from Hansard:

It is the government's view that, if this sort of scheme were to be established by the parliament, it ought to be done by legislation, not solely by a motion of one house. For example, that is what the Hon. Sarah Game, as has been discussed, has sought to do with her Public Sector (Ministerial Travel Reports) Amendment Bill. For these reasons, we will not be supporting the motion.

On 7 July 2022, the Legislative Council passed a bill introduced by the Greens titled Freedom of Information (Ministerial Diaries) Amendment Bill. That bill aimed to bring South Australia into line with other jurisdictions such as New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT, where ministers are already required to disclose their diaries.

The government at that time did not support the bill; however, yesterday it supported the passage of a bill introduced by One Nation, which dealt with a similar transparency matter related to the disclosure of travel expenses. My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: given the government's conversion on transparency, will it now commit to supporting the Freedom of Information (Ministerial Diaries) Amendment Bill in the new year and, if not, why not?

Members interjecting:


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:20): I thank the honourable member for his very keen interest in these areas, and I am very happy to say we will continue to do what we have always done: when we have a bill before us the government will consider the detail of the bill, how it is written, what it proposes to do, how it will propose to operate, and make a decision accordingly.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! I want to listen to the supplementary question to see if I can possibly find some relevance.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:20): Supplementary: given the bill has been sitting there for over 12 months, when can we expect an answer?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:20): We will, of course, as always consider the merits of each bill as it is put before us.