Government pays lawyers 5x fee estimates to hide advice on how to reduce gas prices. What’s the scam?

by Rex Patrick | Mar 26, 2024 | What's the scam?

The Federal Government is going to extraordinary lengths to prevent the public who pays them seeing a paper that might encourage debate on how to get gas prices down. Rex Patrick reveals the cost of secrecy.

The scam is that when lawyers estimate their legal costs … you can triple that. Or in the gas of a government protecting its gas donors’ secrets, quintuple it. when it comes to the litigation gravy train, the old saying springs to mind: “Dogs don’t win dog fights, people do. People don’t win people fights; lawyers do”. The second scam is the amount of money the Government is spending on secrecy.

In 2022, I sought FOI access to an options paper on a domestic gas reservation scheme. In July 2022, the Government refused access to the options paper in full. Not a word was released.

Over the next nine months, I worked to get an appeal into the AAT. Upon doing so in March 2023, the Department engaged Clayton Utz to try to maintain secrecy over the document. Answers to Senate questions on notice from Jacqui Lambie show that the top-end-of-town-law firm estimated the cost would be $27,000.

By June 2023, the Government capitulated on its secrecy claim and released half of the options paper.

Redacted. Gas lobby in lock-step with Government on “secret” gas reservation options

Did Clayton Utz reduce the fee by half? Hardly!

Answers recently provided to Jackie Lambie show that Clayton Utz has charged the Government $150K for their involvement in the proceedings.

Clayton Utz FOI charges

Part of those expenses relates to affidavits filed by Clayton Utz that complained about my tweets and MWM articles informing the public about the transparency fight. The outrage of the public being kept informed!

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I have already achieved a positive outcome in the proceedings, with more than half of the document being made public. And I’m confident I’ll get more of the options paper, if not all of it, when the Tribunal hands down its decision. The big loser here is timely transparency and the amount of public money that has been spent to stop access to a document that was prepared for public purpose and on the public coin.

Transparency is important and much cheaper than secrecy.

How fake gas frights and fanciful forecasts keep fossil fuels burning for longer

Rex Patrick is a former Senator for South Australia and earlier a submariner in the armed forces. Best known as an anti-corruption and transparency crusader -

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