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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2011) . . Page.. 2855 ..


they did not like where it was going. It was showing embarrassing facts like the fact that people were not warned when they should have been when the government knew the bushfires were going to hit. We saw the disgraceful censoring of documents in relation to things like the Tuggeranong power station—the censoring of thousands of pages of documents because it was embarrassing just how badly that process had been stuffed up.

We have seen all that, and now we have a new Chief Minister. The new Chief Minister, having been part of that government, has said, just like the old Chief Minister, “I am going to be more open and accountable.” In a minute I will come to some of what the Chief Minister said in relation to being more open and accountable. But I would repeat the points I made in the chamber when the Chief Minister put those comments together: “The test will be whether you actually do something about it, not whether you pretend to do something about it. The test will be whether you match your rhetoric with action.”

Here we have it again. We have a test. We have an opportunity for the Chief Minister to back up that rhetoric. All that rhetoric will be as empty as Jon Stanhope’s rhetoric of openness was if the Chief Minister does not start backing it up with actions. And some of that can start today.

On 23 June, the Chief Minister’s ministerial statement concerning open government outlined what she meant by an open government. This is what the Chief Minister offered:

Open government is considered to rest on three principles: transparency in processing information, participation by citizens in the governing process and public collaboration in finding solutions to problems and participation in the improved wellbeing of the community.

She said:

Equally important to providing more government information to our community will be the further opening up of our own consultation process.

And she cited the following: the ACT Labor-Greens agreement for parliamentary reforms; the Territory Records Act provision for making cabinet papers public in 10 years as opposed to the standard 20 years in other jurisdictions; and the creation of an open government website in three months time which will also include government material released under FOI and a knowledge map of government information, policies and accountability indicators.

When talking about things like participation, collaboration and transparency, as I said earlier, these are concepts that are much better illustrated by actions than they are by words. We have seen many examples of the government falling short on transparency, whether it is the issue of bullying at Canberra Hospital, the secret negotiations to buy Calvary hospital or school closures and hiding them before the election. More recently, there was the Enlighten report, and also the refusal to conduct any form of inquiry into the case of former AMC superintendent Mr Doug Buchanan.


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