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Attorney General Loses Legal Fight To Keep His Diary Secret

The long-running legal dispute surrounds George Brandis's attempt to keep details of his meetings secret.

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Attorney general George Brandis has lost an attempt to keep his diary secret with the federal court rejecting his appeal against a freedom of information request.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

The long-running legal dispute over Brandis's diary stretches back to 2014, when Labor's Mark Dreyfus lodged a freedom of information request to find out who the attorney general had been meeting with.

Dreyfus's FOI was originally blocked by the attorney general's department in March on the grounds that it would take too much time because Brandis would have to inspect every entry before it was released.

But the federal court ruled on Tuesday morning that Brandis would have to process the request.

A judgment from a full bench of the federal court said "it was unable to discern a rational basis" for Brandis's suggestion that he'd need to contact every person he had met with to get permission to release details of the meetings.

The court also ruled that the Commonwealth would have to pay Dreyfus's costs.

At a press conference after the decision, Dreyfus called on Brandis to "get on with it".

"I call on senator Brandis to now say definitely that he will not be further wasting taxpayers' money by going on to the high court," he said. "He should expeditiously process this request."

The shadow attorney general said he hoped Brandis had "learned a lesson from this".

"He’s cost the Australian taxpayer well in excess of $50,000," Dreyfus said. "That’s money that could’ve been spent on a community legal centre."

When asked by BuzzFeed News what he hoped to find in the attorney general's diary, Dreyfus replied, "I’m trying to see what it is he was so busy doing in the first eight months that he could not see the very organisations in the legal assistance sector whose funding he was cutting.

"I wanted to see what it is that was so dreadfully important about his activities."

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

Marni Cordell is Head of News for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

Contact Marni Cordell at

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