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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 17 November 2011) . . Page.. 5528 ..

Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.

Freedom of Information Amendment Bill 2011

Mr Barr, on behalf of Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation) (12.09): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased, on behalf of the Attorney-General, to present the Freedom of Information Amendment Bill 2011. This bill amends the Freedom of Information Act 1989. It gives partial effect to the government response to the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety’s inquiry into the Freedom of Information Act 1989.

This bill supports the government’s policy on public sector transparency and open government. It amends the objects of the FOI Act to reflect these principles and underscore the government’s desire to facilitate public access to information held by territory government agencies.

The bill before the Assembly today represents another significant milestone in the progression of this government’s ongoing commitment to open government.

Members will be aware of the significant recent media attention given to the question of public access to government agency held information. The Chief Minister responded to that media attention with the advice that the government has been progressing a number of initiatives to enhance access to information. The Freedom of Information Amendment Bill 2011 represents a cornerstone of that work.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety conducted an inquiry into the FOI Act during 2010 and tabled its report on 7 April this year. The standing committee made 19 recommendations to reform the FOI Act. The committee recommended that, amongst other things, the FOI Act be amended to reflect, as far as possible, the recently updated commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982.

On 23 June this year the Chief Minister delivered a statement on open government, detailing the government’s policies and objectives on transparency and openness. That statement extended to reforming all areas of governance to better promote open government principles. It also included a commitment to reform the FOI Act in line with the commonwealth act.

On 25 August this year the Attorney-General tabled the government’s response to the standing committee’s recommendations in the Assembly. The government’s response

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