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Challenge: Hunter Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon is crowd-funding an legal bid to make the Turnbull government to make its coalition agreement public. Picture: Marina NeilLabor MP Joel Fitzgibbon is crowd-funding to pay for court action to force the Turnbull Government to release its Coalition agreement.
Mr Fitzgibbon said details of the deal between the Liberal and National parties, which gave them the numbers to form government, should be made public.
It echoes calls from Opposition leader Bill Shorten in the wake of last year’s federal election.
The government has resisted releasing the latest agreement.
“[Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull only governs because of this deal he has done with the National Party,” Mr Fitzgibbonsaid.
“My view is nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than what is in that agreement and the n public have a right to see it.”
The Hunter MP is taking the matter tothe Federal Court for an appeal after the government rejected hisFreedom of Information request fora copy of the agreement.
“I asked for it and was refused so I took the usual path down Freedom of Information Act and was denied,” he said.
“I went to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal but the government brought the lawyers in and frustrated the process and have now forced me into Federal Court.”
The action, so far, has been funded by the Labor Party and Mr Fitzgibbon personally.
He told Fairfax Media he had called for online donations so that members of the public could contribute to “the David and Goliath battle” if they wished.
“Malcolm Turnbull is spending tax payers’ money to defend this agreement without their consent,” he said.
“So what I’m giving people the opportunity to do is to voluntarily donate to even-up the ledger a bit.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said the agreement could have details about key issues such as marriage equality, about which the public had a right to know. But he argued transparency was at the heart of the issue.
“In many senses it doesn’t matter what’s in the agreement,” he said.
“The key principle here is a deal has been done to allow Malcolm Turnbull to be the Prime Minister and for Barnaby Joyce to be the Deputy Prime Minster.
“I believe, in our Westminster system, people are entitled to know what is in that agreement.”
Mr Turnbull’s office did not respond to a Fairfax Media request for comment on the matter.
Nor did the office of Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
But Fairfax Media reported in July, 2016, that Mr Joyce said of the deal: “The first aspiration is the agreement remains confidential”.
The Federal Court will hear the matter on August 18.
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