Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 November 2022) . . Page.. 3696 ..
Again, I very much apologise to those people that have had that experience. It is not something we want to see. That is why there is so much focus on infection prevention and control across our health services.
Minister for Health—questions on notice
MS CASTLEY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, on 10 June this year I asked you a question on notice asking for a breakdown of staffing by ward for the last financial year. FOI documents reveal that a response to that question was completed by Calvary and CHS, but your office provided feedback to CHS and Calvary saying that the answer should be amended to say, “This is an unreasonable diversion of resources.” The answer I received from your office was then, of course, “This is an unreasonable diversion of resources,” even though the answer had already been found and provided to your office.
Minister, why is your office advising the directorate to remove an answer to a question on notice and replace it with “This is an unreasonable diversion of resources”?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I will go back and have a look at the documents that were provided to Ms Castley under freedom of information but I would be very surprised if that is an accurate representation of everything that has occurred here. What quite often happens is that some kind of answer is provided, and it is not actually the answer to the question that has been asked, and it is in fact an unreasonable diversion of resources to provide an answer to the exact question that has been asked.
If Ms Castley goes through freedom of information in relation to all questions, what she will quite often find is my office and me going back and actually saying, “Do a bit better. I think we can provide some further information.” We try very hard to provide the most accurate information we can to the questions that are asked. I am quite confident that Ms Castley is misrepresenting what occurred on this occasion, but I will go back and have another look.
MS CASTLEY: Minister, how many answers has CHS, Calvary and ACT Health provided to your office only to be directed to change the answer to “an unreasonable diversion of resources”?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Again, I will go back and have a look at the records that we have. But, again, my commitment is to provide as much information as accurately as possible. It is most often the case that the directorates come to us or Calvary come to us and tell us that they cannot provide the information in the detail that has been requested, because it would be a significant use of resources and an unreasonable diversion of those resources from the important work that our health services do every day.
MR COCKS: Minister, will you review your office practices for questions on notice and guarantee that you will release any previous answers that have been sanitised by your office?