Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 November 2011) . . Page.. 5270 ..
talking with the public service and indeed the journalists and the paper in particular about the concerns that they have around that. The government has flagged its intention to amend FOI laws, and new legislation will be introduced into the Assembly. I welcome members’ debate on those very important reforms when they are introduced.
However, there still will be restrictions on information and, in particular, if members look at the health records act, health records are provided with extra protections, including an individual’s right to privacy. I am sure Mr Hanson, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth would all agree that someone’s health records should not be available for release to the rest of the world. In the cool light of day I think even those opposite who have been squealing around redactions would actually agree that an individual’s health record should be offered protection from release under FOI legislation. If they do not agree with that then they should bring forward amendments to the health records act to amend that. Rather than just standing and screaming, if they actually agree that redacted information should be made available, they should seek to amend the relevant legislation that offers protection at the moment.
MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Dr Bourke.
DR BOURKE: Chief Minister, you mentioned that the government was now making FOI documents available online. Can you provide more detail about this initiative?
MS GALLAGHER: Yes, thank you, Dr Bourke. From 4 October 2011 non-exempt information disclosed to an applicant under the FOI act is now available on the Open Government website. This includes schedules of all documents released and schedules of documents withheld in response to an FOI request, copies of all text documents released to an applicant under the FOI act, subject to the exclusions detailed in the policy, and details about how to obtain photographs.
The Open Government website currently includes material released for eight FOI applications on seven different topic areas, including material released from 20 October to 11 November. The latest material released relates to live music IDC, security upgrades in public housing, and block 15 section 130 in Kambah, a development application.
As I said earlier, it is important to understand that open government does not mean that all information is released. There are many legitimate reasons, including privacy, protection of the territory’s interests and protection of confidential commercial material, which would preclude release of certain information. It is essential to remember that every single request under FOI legislation is considered individually, and a separate decision maker is accountable for information under the scope of that request.
It is also important for members to understand that ministers do not sit in their offices considering FOI applications, as the opposition would have people think. These are matters that are handled, quite appropriately, at the departmental level.
MS PORTER: A supplementary.