Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Cabinet Documents

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:55): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Attorney-General regarding one of the recent reports from the Auditor-General.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Two days ago, or yesterday maybe, the Auditor-General, Mr Andrew Richardson, released a report entitled 'Report 7 of 2023 Access to Cabinet documents' from which I now quote:

Several times since 2016, I have reported on issues associated with the Auditor‐General’s access to Cabinet submissions. In 2016, the then SA Government introduced changes to accessing Cabinet submissions for the given reason of maintaining Cabinet confidentiality. These changes had the effect of restricting the Auditor‐General’s access to Cabinet submissions for audit purposes.

This report clearly sets out that since 2016 whenever Labor has been in government, including the recent Malinauskas government, access to cabinet documents has been denied, which in comparison to the Marshall Liberal government access was granted. On page 2 of the report, Mr Richardson states that all his 2023 requests, a total of 32, for cabinet submissions for audit purposes are unresolved. He states categorically that failing to provide the requested information means that the work the parliament has assigned to the Auditor-General cannot be completed.

My question for the Attorney-General is: how does he respond to the Auditor-General's comments regarding cabinet's refusal to provide the information requested and that this is hindering the proper performance of his office's statutory functions as stated in the report?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:57): I thank the honourable member for her question. As noted on page 1 in the executive summary of the Report of the Auditor-General, 'Report 7 of 2023 Access to Cabinet documents', for the majority of the time from the last government from March 2019 to March 2022 and since March 2022 the exact same process has applied.