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).
Following this, the Treasury received a request for an internal review of the decision not to release certain sections of the Red Book. This request was considered, taking into account the weight given to public interest, the passage of time and subsequent events, including public disclosures, since the original decision.
Following consultations with the Treasurer, the Treasury has now amended the earlier published documents to include the further material released under the internal review.
A request for internal review was also received in relation to the brief prepared in the event of a newly elected Coalition Government (referred to as the Blue Book). 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. The FOI requests for an internal review of this document have been processed and submitted to the applicants consistent with the FOI Act.
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.