The Treasury received a number of requests for its incoming government briefs under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). On 24 September, the Treasury published on its website the information released under FOI in relation to the brief prepared for a returned Labor Government (referred to as the Red Book).
On 9 November 2010, in response to an internal review, the Treasury released additional sections of the Red Book. This internal review is now subject to appeal before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. On 25 March 2011, the Treasury released further material from the Red Book. This decision took into account the weight given to public interest, the passage of time and subsequent events, including public disclosures, since the original decision.
In relation to the brief prepared in the event of a newly elected Coalition Government (referred to as the Blue Book), appeals are being considered by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. The Treasury takes seriously its policy to protect information prepared for a government that was not formed, noting that the Coalition parties did not have the benefit of actually considering and responding to that advice. For this reason, the Treasury has not published the Blue Book.
In making this judgement in relation to the Blue Book, the Treasury noted the strong views of the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, that the release of incoming government briefs would contravene the Westminster conventions.