Release Date: 14-Feb-2008
Jubilee's debt audit is trying to work out what loans Australia has made to other countries: who they were made to, for what amounts, and for what purposes. Jubilee has been on this for twelve months, and now has a Freedom of Information application in place to try to access some of this information.
Most of the loans most certainly will be legitimate - loans made to finance the import of goods or services that the importing country really needed. But some may be loans to support exports of things recipient countries didn't really need, but which Australia needed to export. The problem is that we don't know, and we don't get told. This is tax payers money. Why should there be any secrecy about what loans Australia has made to other countries?
In my mind this is a no brainer. These are loans made with public money. The information should be available somewhere, but as it is we are having to pry it out with FoI applications.
There doesn't seem to be any possible justification for government not to be transparent in a country like Australia. We're not asking for anything more than knowing what's been done, to whom and for what reason.
Prof Ross Buckley, UNSW Law School
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