Thirteen letters to the Queen from Australian Prime Ministers are set to be published for the first time after a 15 month battle for their release by this blog.
As revealed by Buzzfeed Australia today, the Australian Information Commissioner has ruled that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) must release the correspondence under Freedom of Information rules.
DPMC have argued that publishing the letters would “damage the international relations of the Commonwealth” and their disclosure is contrary to the public interest. Both exemptions were dismissed by the Information Commissioner however, who accepted my argument that the Queen received the letters in her role as Australia’s Head of State, not as a representative of a foreign government. He also ruled it was in the public interest that they are released.
The letters must now be released within 28 days of the ruling, however DPMC still have the right to appeal.
The letters cover the period 2013-2016 and were all sent from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and current PM Malcolm Turnbull. The period also covers some of Julia Gillard’s reign and Rudd’s second term as PM but no letters from them seem to be among the 13 identified.
[Note the original case referred to 11 letters. Two further letters were identified by DPMC during the review process and subsequently added to the list.]
The letters will be published on this blog when I get them…
Image: Wikimedia (composition) (CC-BY)