Independent senator Rex Patrick has doubled down on his criticisms of the Prime Minister's department over its refusal to release national cabinet documents, saying it has been politicised and that Labor should sack its secretary Phil Gaetjens if it wins government.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet issued an extraordinary rebuke of Senator Patrick on Wednesday, hitting back at his criticisms of one of its officials over her refusal to release national cabinet documents under freedom of information laws.
Senator Patrick on Tuesday called the official, assistant secretary Angie McKenzie, "incompetent" and "politicised" but the department said the comments were "untrue" and "unwarranted".
The South Australian senator pushed back in the Senate on Thursday and took aim at the department, saying it had been hugely politicised.
"Secretary Gaetjens happily presides over a politically corrupted agency for a prime minister obsessed with secrecy and lacking respect for democratic accountability," Senator Patrick said.
"There's a huge task ahead to restore integrity at the peak of the public service."
Senator Patrick accused Ms McKenzie on Tuesday of doing the federal government's bidding after she blocked access to secret national cabinet documents.
Ms McKenzie refused access to the documents after finding they were exempt under cabinet secrecy rules.
It followed an Administrative Appeals Tribunal finding in August that the national cabinet was not a subcommittee of the federal cabinet. In her decision, Ms McKenzie found the national cabinet was a committee of the federal cabinet for the purposes of the FOI laws.
The senator's comments about Mr Gaetjens follow Anthony Albanese's pointed refusal in a recent interview to guarantee the jobs of public service bosses if Labor won government.
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