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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2361 ..

Do members of this place honestly believe it is appropriate to demand of a minister that she table a document she does not have with her, which she cannot refer to, which may refer to a patient and that patient’s clinical position or standing, and expect the minister or the government of the day to accede? No reasonable member of any parliament of Australia would either move or support a motion such as this, demanding that a minister, a member of the executive, table a document when that minister has absolutely no way of being able to recall automatically or instantly the content or the appropriateness of it or, indeed, whether she would be legally able to do so, having regard to other legal impediments such as privacy or other restraints.

Mr Seselja: She can come back to us tomorrow.

MR STANHOPE: Then you should not pass the motion. You should not. We are talking here about brief to a minister for health and it is simply unreasonable and exceptional to expect a minister with responsibility for health most particularly—but it is a principle that would apply to other ministers—to be asked to table a document such as this. It would be more appropriate, if you believe that the record should be made available, she be asked through the Freedom of Information Act or some other appropriate mechanism, rather than this blunt-axe approach which is entirely inappropriate. Then due consideration could be given by the minister or by the government or by the relevant departmental decision maker as to whether or not the document can be appropriately revealed.

But to be moving motions in this place for many of the documents to be tabled in this way is simply inappropriate. If you believe that there should be access to this document, use the appropriate mechanisms and use the Freedom of Information Act, use those mechanisms that allow due consideration to be given to whether or not it is appropriate for this document to be released and the conditions or circumstances under which it should be released.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (9.29): The Greens will not be supporting this amendment to my amendment. I think it is important to remember that we do need to consider that it is important for public servants to be able to provide frank and fearless advice to ministers and I think this impacts on that. And this is the very reason why, with what we have been discussing today, I have moved my amendment. I think the most appropriate body to conduct this is someone like an auditor-general who will access the information and use it in a sensible, proper and impartial way.

Question put:

That Mr Seselja’s amendment to Ms Bresnan’s proposed amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 5

Noes 10

Mr Doszpot

Mr Seselja

Mr Barr

Ms Hunter

Mrs Dunne

Mr Smyth

Ms Bresnan

Ms Le Couteur

Mr Hanson

Ms Burch

Ms Porter

Ms Gallagher

Mr Rattenbury

Mr Hargreaves

Mr Stanhope

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