In Legal Affairs

South Australia Opposition Leader Steven Marshall

Weatherill Labor Refuses State Records Office Briefing

Victor P Taffa

The Weatherill Labor Government has refused a request for a briefing from the State Records Office to clarify data management issues raised in the Debelle Report.

Last month, State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall sought an urgent briefing from the State Records Office to answer:

  • The legislation and policy relating to records management which applies in the Government of South Australia, particularly in ministerial offices;
  • The prevailing records management practices of State Government agencies, including ministerial offices;
  • The oversight of compliance with the legislation and policy relating to management by State Records or other agencies;
  • Issues of compliance arising from the Independent Education Inquiry and what remedial action is proposed.

“It was Mr. Weatherill who said serious questions deserve serious answers.” Mr. Marshall said.

“Sadly, just when South Australians are desperate for answers, Mr. Weatherill and his Labor Government continue to avoid openness and transparency.”

“Mr. Weatherill needs to explain why he is refusing the request for a briefing on this very serious issue.”

The Debelle Report revealed that computers used by then Education Minister Weatherill and his advisers are returned to the Education Department and decommissioned upon a change of Minister.

The computers also undergo a process called DBAN, where the hard drive is overwritten so that data from the computer cannot be recovered.

As a result, crucial information which would have assisted the Debelle inquiry, including that from then Education Minister Weatherill’s office, was unable to be recovered.

“We’re requesting an urgent briefing from the State Records Office to seek answers to questions about data management and storage that Mr. Weatherill has refused to answer.” Mr. Marshall said.

“The Debelle Inquiry was advised of records management practices which do not appear to confirm with legislative requirements or the General Disposal Schedules, particularly GDS 18.”

If elected to government in 2014, Mr. Marshall has already promised to ensure that records are retained by State Records from all government ministers, departments and agencies for at least the lifetime of a government.

“South Australians deserve to have confidence in their government and this can only occur by improving transparency and openness.”

Labor Premier Jay Weatherill has threatened legal action against the State Opposition over the Debelle Affair for discussing it. Premier Weatherill has said that he will pay for the legal costs himself.

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