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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 11 May 2017) . . Page.. 1755 ..

MR HANSON: I agree, Mrs Dunne, it is a shame, but perhaps it should not be too unexpected based on the Greens’ form of rhetoric pre-election and post-election. A range of clauses are predominantly technical and regulatory, and they are important. But noting the time, I will highlight the part of this bill that talks about removing the limitation on periods from civil wrongs. The Canberra Liberals support that, but I note there was quite some discussion on this in scrutiny report No 5 of April 2017. I invite members to read that rather than have me repeat what has been said in that report.

Again, with a nod from Mr Ian Hagan sitting on the benches, I will skip over the extensive and detailed and very well-written speech that he has provided me, and I will go straight to the element of the bill which we oppose, that is, the delay in the FOI act. This is disappointing, members. We have been debating these sorts of laws for years, and what we have seen is that the Greens have caved. It is very disappointing, and this is not a small issue.

I will go to what Mr Rattenbury said before the election, as that might be a useful thing. Some of his soaring rhetoric of the time, let’s go to it:

Access to government information should be based on an objective assessment of the best interests of the community and not the subjective interests of the individuals or party forming the government of the day.

Mr Rattenbury then invoked Sir Anthony Mason, the former Chief Justice of the High Court, who said:

It is unacceptable in our democratic society that there should be a restraint on the publication of information relating to government when the only vice of that information is that it enables the public to discuss, review and criticize government action.

Mr Rattenbury loved that before the election, but he does not want that criticism now he is a minister again. He went on to say that:

This bill represents a significant step forward. It will take us from the back of the pack to right up the front. It will improve government accountability to the community and community participation in government.

Mr Coe: We’re still at the back of the pack.

MR HANSON: We still are, and we will be for a while, Mr Coe. Mr Rattenbury said:

It is universally true that the more effective the accountability mechanisms in place for the conduct of the executive, the better the quality of that conduct will be.

He went on to say:

There is no doubt that communities want governments to be more open and accountable for their conduct and that is exactly what this bill will deliver.

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