Environment minister Sussan Ley says public servants shouldn't be concerned about their privacy in the face of an attempt by mining giant Adani to find the names of those giving advice on its applications.
The mining company, which had been working through approval processes for its contentious mine in the Gallilee Basin, has confirmed it wrote to the federal environment department in January this year, asking for the names of scientists from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has told the ABC he understands why Adani would request the names of public servants, but Ms Ley didn't repeat his sentiments.
"As I understand this is a request that was made to my department, it didn't come to me or my office, and the names were not supplied," Ms Ley said.
"For those concerned about the privacy around the individuals in those scientific fields they need not be concerned, the names were not supplied."
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At the time the request was made, the scientists were reviewing the groundwater management plan for the mine, with its approval necessary for the mine to go ahead.
The names weren't supplied because the advice was received from Geoscience Australia and CSIRO as agencies, not from individuals within them.
Ms Ley said she "absolutely" backed the ability of public servants to give frank and fearless advice.
"Departments and ministers under the Westminster system are not the same and departments provide their ministers with advice and that's a good thing. I respect and value the detailed scientific and other advice that is provided through my department, through agencies that involve for example the independent expert scientific committee, and others."
Ms Ley said Australia's freedom of information laws are "strong" and in the public interest.
"Where requests are not appropriate, they are not granted."
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