Anthony Albanese

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sacks Freedom of Information Commissioner Leo Hardiman by constructive dismissal

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has forced Freedom of Information Commissioner Leo Hardiman to resign from his position by making it impossible for him to do his job properly which is a textbook case study for constructive dismissals.

Constructive dismissal is when an employer leaves an employee with no option but to resign by undermining their ability to do their job.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese won the May 2022 election with a promise of a more open and transparent government which is slowly but surely being proven to be a lie.

Freedom of Information Commissioner Leo Hardiman is a career public servant going by his LinkedIn profile which says he spent 28 years as an Australian Government Solicitor before his appointment as FOI Commissioner which he only started in April 2022.

Mr Hardiman’s length of service under both Labor and Liberal/National governments shows he was not biased even though he was appointed by the Scott Morrison government. So, I doubt that Mr Hardiman was a Liberal Party puppet who has been forced out by the new Labor Party trying to clear the decks.

Update 9/3/23: I have now published the below video titled: “PM Anthony Albanese breaks the law and sacks FOI Commissioner Leo Hardiman by constructive dismissal”

Given Mr Hardiman is a career public servant it is no surprise he has been very diplomatic in his resignation, but the second last paragraph is what makes it obvious it was a constructive dismissal where he says he can’t do his job properly and/or effectively so he is resigning:

“I have come to the view that I will not be able, in the absence of those changes, to increase timeliness of IC reviews and access in a way which best promotes the objects of the FOI Act. I have accordingly decided the most appropriate course is to resign my appointment.”

His full resignation letter is below and the fact that he has published it on his LinkedIn page is telling:


Based on the evidence Mr Hardiman has been constructively dismissed because PM Anthony Albanese and his government want to weaken FOI laws and processes because they also don’t want to be accountable to the public.

I believe this viewpoint is supported by recent criticisms of the FOI process by former Senator Rex Patrick and by Labor’s weakening of the National Corruption Commission to only have public hearings in exceptional circumstances instead of the reverse of only having private hearings in exceptional circumstances.

The SMH published an article on this matter which starts off:

Australia’s freedom of information commissioner has quit after less than a year in the job, citing lengthy delays to information requests and his lack of power to fix a system that currently has people waiting up to five years for an appeal decision.

Leo Hardiman KC was last year appointed FOI Commissioner, the first in seven years after the Abbott government tried to abolish the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and left the role vacant.

He was appointed to a five-year term in the job that oversees Australians’ access to information held by the federal government and reviews decisions made by agencies and ministers. (Click here to read more)

Former independent federal Senator Rex Patrick, who has a business named Transparency Warrior which helps people with FOI requests, tweeted on this issue:

“Leo Hardiman PSM KC has resigned as the FOI Commissioner over his inability, for reasons beyond his control, “to increase timeliness of IC reviews and access in a way which best promotes the objects of the FOI Act”.” 

and: “Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and the previous government put Mr Hardiman in an impossible situation. He had more than 1500 reviews on foot (47 going back to 2018), an ever-increasing number of review requests coming his way, and no resources. If FOI is broken, so too is democracy.” (Click here to see on Twitter)

The bottom line is Leo Hardiman was forced to quit his well-paid 5-year contract, by constructive dismissal, in less than a year because Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government would not give him what he needed to speed up the processing of freedom of information requests and reviews which are used to help keep the government accountable.

The stitch-up of Leo Hardiman and weakening of FOI laws and processes is what I call pure corruption which even Australia’s most corrupt Prime Minister Scott Morrison would be proud of.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has read the room badly on accountability thinking he can lie to the public by saying one thing but doing another. If PM Albanese continues down that path millions on social media will be gunning for him and his government at the next election.

I’ve been investigating an associated FOI matter for a while which I will report on soon. You will find Freedom of Information under the Labor Party is just as scandalous as it was before they came to power if not worse.

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9 replies »

  1. I don’t buy the lack of resource explanation provided by the OAIC for the delay in processing ic reviews. I have a review with them for 22 months. It relates to one email. They started contact with the respondent dept 14 months ago. The OAIC won’t provide an explanation or timeline. I think the delays are intentional, especially for something that may cause embarrassment or liability to the government. These delays reduce the value of the information, wear applicants down, give staff/politicians time to move on. Also the timing of Hardimans appointment would make me think it was very much political. Rex Patrick has done trojan work addressing these delays, pushing for a legal timeframe for a review in the Federal Court. Hopefully he will be successful and maybe Hardimans resignation has something to do with this due in the Federal Court this month…. I’m no Albanese fan, I believe him to be as much a threat to transparency as Morrison was. I guess all changes of government ceos and chairs is political, no such thing as a neutral public service anymore.

    • JF, you have made a very good point. Indeed, some judges, commissioners, lawyers etc. use the delay in process as a strategy to achieve selfish or improper purposes.

  2. Slowly, but surely, the gloss is disappearing from Labor`s election. I think most of us thought a new broom would eventually sweep clean, but worrying signs are stacking up. When I commented about the disappearance of news about the FACC`s progress, the Labor luvvies clambered all over me. ‘Takes time to set up, you know’. ‘Can`t rush these things.’ Etc. I realise it takes time to hire premises, get staff, print letterheads, manufacture embossed pens (probably from China), etc., but a move of epic proportions in cleaning out major corruption should be scrutinised——-often. Now we have the FOI debacle. With Labor avoiding so many of the Coal-ition`s dodges, money-earners and class warfare, looks like we may be astride the wrong horse.

  3. According to the attached article, Mr Hardiman was handpicked by Michaelia Cash for the job after she bypassed the appointments procedure in the dying days of the Morrison government. He hadn’t even applied for the job. It stinks of Morrison government corruption and cronyism. Far from being the end of FOI, I am fully expecting this government to seek a more suitable person to take the position, one who is prepared to tackle the backlog of cases with enthusiasm, rather than a career public service fat cat.

    • That doesn’t explain why the government didn’t give him the resources he needed to do the job as there was a huge backlog before he even took the job which it says in your article. Maybe you should have read it in full before linking. It says:

      While the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner increased its finalised cases by 35% in the past financial year, the number of reviews it received increased by 60%.

      The office now has more than 2,000 FOI cases on hand, and more than 1,000 of these have been under review for more than a year.

      Addressing senate estimates earlier this month, Hardiman said the office needs more funding to adequately complete its role.

      “In my view, taking into account the current backlog and the rate of inflow of IC review applications to the office… there are not sufficient resources,” Hardiman said.

      It also doesn’t explain why the new Labor Government have been undermining FOI since they came to power and why Rex Patrick has had to take them to court which is due back in court in a week or so. Stay tuned as I will have more on this matter soon.

      • That huge backlog would be the result of years of masterful and aggressive inaction by successive LNP governments, with Abbott being the architect of destroying the effectiveness of the role of FOI Commissioner. Mr Hardiman was an obvious plant by the Morrison government. His appointment was rushed through, just as the Morrison government appointments to the AAT were in its death throes. The Morrison government knew they were on the way out and, like a defeated force, poisoned the wells, razed the villages and salted the land as they retreated.

  4. In their honeymoon period, Labor has done good things for the betterment of the country such as dropping the Cashless Debit Card and ending the prosecution of Collaery. But they have always been the Coalition’s bitch when it comes to supporting every piece of legislation the previous government introduced, doing a dirty deal with them to make the NACC hearings private, and continuing the prosecution of 2 whistle-blowers. They even had the nerve to lie about not passing the dangerous piece of legislation known as the Assistance and Access Bill designed to weaken encryption and force Australian tech companies that rely on it to piss off overseas. With unnecessary stunts like these, maybe voters should think twice about voting for LibLab if they value our democracy. Thank you, KCA, for your hard work.

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