Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 23 August 2018) . . Page.. 3513 ..
accountable and giving Canberrans confidence in the public administration of the territory.
Using Assembly processes to attempt to circumvent the FOI process after Icon Water has participated in that process in good faith, engaged seriously with it and provided all the information it reasonably could makes a mockery of these nation-leading transparency processes that all members of this Assembly supported. Members need to reflect on that going forward.
If the Assembly orders production of these documents the government will seek these from Icon Water. We expect that their advice will be consistent with that already provided to the government: that everything which can be made available has already been made available and remaining details are commercial in confidence. We will, of course, take this process forward if that is the will of this Assembly this morning.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (11.06): The Greens will be supporting this motion. Standing order 213A was established in order to resolve disputes like this. There has been some history in this place of people having different views about what should or should not be released. There are also recognised standards and tests about what is an appropriate document to be released, tests such as public interest, whether documents are commercial in confidence and the like. That is why standing order 213A was established, and that is why we are happy to support this matter to be resolved through that process today.
The nature of that is that once that process is gone through we have a result. If Mr Coe does not get the outcome he is seeking, he will need to reflect on how he wants to respond to that. But that is why we are happy go to this process. However, this is the last time we will do this unless the full extent of the FOI act has been used.
The new freedom of information laws allow for an appeal mechanism where a claimant is not happy with the release of documents under the FOI process. That has been revamped in the FOI legislation for the matter to go to the Ombudsman for a review of that decision. That was a very significant shift in the FOI legislation where previously it went to an internal review process.
Mr Coe: This was done under the former act last year.
MR RATTENBURY: Mr Coe has clarified one point, and I will come to that in a moment. Under the new act you can appeal to the Ombudsman. We had sought clarification earlier in the week of whether the Liberal Party had gone to the Ombudsman. At the time we were told they had not. Mr Coe has just clarified across the chamber that this was done under the old act, so that opportunity does not exist here. But certainly I would expect that in the future, before a 213A claim comes through, members would have used the full extent of the freedom of information process because we have created that mechanism.
I accept that that is not applicable in this case and that casts a slightly different light on the matter. But we need to make sure that we make full use of those opportunities going forward, because the Ombudsman is there. Getting in an arbiter has other costs,