GCA Wins - Right to Information - Case Against Tasmanian Premier in Supreme Court
Yesterday 8 February 2019, Justice Michael Brett of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, found the decision by the Premier, Hon. William Hodgman to refuse Gun Control Australia (GCA) access to advice about proposed changes to Tasmanian gun laws was wrong. Justice Brett ordered the Premier's decision be set aside and for a new decision be made in accordance with the law.
Justice Michael Brett stated, "At the most basic level of the argument, because the Premier referred to this advice in partial justification of the Government's position, it is impossible for the public to assess that question and legitimately oppose or support the Government's position in debate without being privy to that advice."
In March 2018, GCA sought advice from the then Police Minister, Rene Hidding, saying the proposed changes to gun laws would not contravene the National Firearms Agreement (NFA), which was introduced following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
On 30 April 2018, GCA was informed it had been denied access to the advice because the documents are of a “consultative nature” and granting access would be contrary to the “public interest” and “prohibit the frank exchange of views."
Ms Lee, President of GCA states, “This is a win for an open and transparent Tasmanian Government where decisions that would have a detrimental impact on public safety are not made behind closed doors without any public scrutiny.”
Roland Browne, Vice President of GCA and Tasmanian Spokesperson, states, “The Supreme Court has basically said that the Act (RTI) means what it says, that it points towards a release of information to better inform the public and these kinds of public interest considerations that feed into how decisions are made to be taken seriously.”
Click here to see copy of judgment:https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/tas/TASSC//2019/3.html