Opinion Number. 434

Subject

PRODUCTION OF COMMONWEALTH DOCUMENTS WHETHER PROPER FOR APPLICATION FOR INVALID PENSION BY PERSON CLAIMING COMPENSATION FOR INJURY ON STATE RAILWAYS TO BE SHOWN TO STATE CROWN SOLICITOR

Key Legislation

INVALID AND OLD-AGE PENSIONS ACT 1908-1909

Date
Client
The Prime Minister

The Prime Minister has asked for my opinion whether he should allow the State Crown Solicitor to see the papers of an applicant for an invalid pension. The State Crown Solicitor wishes to see the papers in connection with a claim for compensation for injuries on the State railways.

I know of no provision in the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1909 or in the regulations thereunder which prohibits the disclosure of any matters appearing on the papers connected with an application.

In the absence of any provision requiring secrecy, the question appears to me to be one of discretion.

I presume it has been the general practice of the Department not to allow inspection of papers. If so, I think the practice should prevail in all cases, unless the person desiring inspection shows good grounds, such for instance as the interests of justice, on which the inspection should be allowed.

The mere fact that a claimant for a pension has also made a claim for compensation for injury sustained on a State railway would not in itself be sufficient ground for departing from the practice. But, if it were shown that the two matters were connected and there were reasonable grounds for believing that the interests of justice would be likely to be served by allowing inspection, I think that inspection should be allowed.

The matter is however entirely in the discretion of the Treasurer and he can allow inspection on any ground he pleases or he can refuse to allow inspection without advancing any reason.

[Vol. 9, p. 342]