Home Affairs boss Michael Pezzullo says he will not seek to boost resources for the section of his department that deals with freedom of information (FOI) requests despite growing demand, processing delays and an independent investigation.
The department has faced criticism for failing to process requests within the timeframe required by legislation. In 2018-19, 56 per cent of FOI requests for non-personal information were not finalised within the time limit, resulting in multiple complaints and a probe by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
Appearing before a Senate inquiry into press freedom on Friday, Mr Pezzullo said the FOI section’s efforts were “commendable” given the available resources and . While Home Affairs faces growing FOI demands, he said he would not be seeking more funding in the area.
He said the 79 full-time positions allocated to FOI processing were comparable to the numbers in cyber security, countering foreign interference, counter-terrorism and preventing child exploitation. He declared he would sooner direct extra resources to those priority areas than FOI.