This article addresses the issue of accountability and transparency in relation to the use of commercial-in-confidence clauses to withhold information. The issue is contentious. On the one hand some like the Senate Finance and Public Administration Reference Committee (SFPARC) argue that: 'Put simply there can be no accountability if there is no information' (SFPARC 2000). On the other hand, an alternative view is: 'I think that the sanctity of contract... [is] a fundamental pillar of our legal system, and if private businesses enter into contracts with governments that specify confidentiality, then that ought to be respected' (Paterson 1999). This paper is an abridged version of a keynote address to CPA Australia (Queensland Division) Audit Intensive Day 2000, Brisbane Hilton, 10 November 2000.