Hocking v DG National Archives of Australia

Friday, 29 May 2020

The High Court today handed down its decision on Hocking v DG National Archives of Australia.

The High Court ruled in favour of Professor Hocking, finding that the ‘Palace Letters’ are Commonwealth records under the Archives Act 1983.

The High Court has instructed the Director-General to reconsider Professor Hocking’s request for access to the correspondence accordingly.

The National Archives has commenced the access examination process as required by the Act.

The process assesses which Commonwealth records are made public once they reach the legislated open period, 20 years after their creation.

National Archives Director-General David Fricker said: ‘We accept the High Court’s judgement and will now get to work examining these historically significant records for release under the provisions of the Archives Act 1983.

‘The National Archives is a pro-disclosure organisation. We operate on the basis that a Commonwealth record should be made publicly available, unless there is a specific and compelling need to withhold it. We work extremely hard to do this for the Australian people.’

Last financial year the National Archives wholly released 96 per cent of records on request, partially released 3 per cent, and completely withheld only 1 per cent. In all, more than 310,400 records documenting the decisions and actions of previous governments were released.

Available for interview: David Fricker, National Archives of Australia

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