Vikki Campion travel records Freedom of Information request denied

By , 25/04/2020 19:39

A Freedom Of Information requestfor the travel expenses of Barnaby Joyce’s former staffer and current partner hasbeen denied on the grounds it would undermined an independent investigation, and the “expectation and risk”of the information being “misinterpreted and misrepresented”.

More than four weeks ago,The Northern Daily Leader lodged aFreedom Of Information(FOI) request seekingVikki Campion’s travel records for the first quarter of 2017, to investigate whether public funds were misused while she worked for Mr Joyce, with whom she is now in a relationship.

In the response from the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority – the body in charge of monitoring parliamentary travel expenses–branch manager Petra Gartmannwrote she was “of the view” that disclosing the documents would be “widely published” and would “generate public discussion, including on social media”.

OUR SAY: Is ‘misinterpretation’a fair reason to deny a FOI request?

Ms Gartmann said the benefit of informing public debatewas outweighed by the documents’ potential to compromise the organisation’s audit.

“[Releasing the documents] could reasonably raise public expectations that this audit will lead to certain findings,” Ms Gartmann wrote.

“This then has the potential to lead to public and political pressure, undermine IPEA’s independence and ultimately render the audit worthless if the findings fail to meet public expectations.

“Also, in order to afford audit subjects procedural fairness, any adverse findings and gaps in available information are required to be put to the audit subject before information is published.”

The Leader also sent an FOI request to Mr Joyce’s office, asking for his diary of event and meeting locations for the first three months of 2017.

However, his office is yet to respond.

The Northern Daily Leader

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