The Chief Archivist has decided to review recordkeeping practices of the Prime Minister in regard to text messages which may/may not be considered public records between the period November 2008 and November 2014 in relation to a request about a possible breach of the Public Records Act 2005 (the Act).
The Recordkeeping Review terms of reference are as follows:
Based on statements relating to the deletion of text messages made by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives on 27 November 2014, James Shaw MP requested an investigation regarding what he considers to be a potential breach of the Public Records Act 2005. The request was to cover the period that the Prime Minister has been in office, and whether there has been any change in his practices over time. Mr Shaw has also asked for the Chief Archivist to provide direction and guidelines on the deletion or retention of text messages.
The review will examine:
- Any recordkeeping policies and procedures for managing text messages, supplied by relevant public offices during the period concerned;
- Whether the requirements of the Act have been met;
- The application of existing authorised disposal schedules;
- The adequacy of advice or guidance provided to the Prime Minister; and
- Any other matters the Chief Archivist considers appropriate to review.
The use of private mobile phones and devices and personal text messages on ministerial phones and devices are explicitly excluded from the scope of this review.
Under s31(a) of the Act, the Chief Archivist may give notice in writing directing the administrative head of a public office to report on any specified aspect of its recordkeeping practice.
4. Contact for enquiries
The Chief Archivist will not comment while the review is underway, but will publish a final report when the review is complete.