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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 26 September 2019) . . Page.. 3995 ..


and support the Ombudsman to seek to resolve applications for review informally between the parties or through mediation before proceeding to a formal review of a decision.

The bill as a whole is designed to improve the act and has been worked on over a period of time and with ongoing feedback from the ACT public service, in particular the directorates that are dealing with the most complex FOI requests, namely Community Services, and Health.

I thank the Attorney-General for his approach to these amendments; the officials in the Justice and Community Safety Directorate for their work on sensitively and sensibly engaging with both my office and a range of stakeholders in the development of the bill; and the government for the careful approach it is taking to amending the FOI Act to reflect the original spirit of the legislation and also to acknowledge that, as the rubber has hit the road, certain questions have come up and certain difficulties have arisen. I think that it is appropriate that there are adjustments as we go that are consistent with what we are trying to achieve in this legislation but make the practical job of implementing it easier. We are pleased to support the bill today.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts, Creative Industries and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (3.46), in reply: I start by thanking both Mrs Jones and Mr Rattenbury for their contributions and for their support of this bill, which is seeking to make minor but important amendments to the way that the Freedom of Information Act works.

I also thank the scrutiny committee for its comments and for its inquiries about matters. As part of that, I would like to table a revised explanatory statement responding to the matters that arose.

I am pleased to speak on and to summarise the debate in relation to the Freedom of Information Amendment Bill. It makes some important amendments to the Freedom of Information Act. They will improve the operation of the Freedom of Information regime here in the ACT. I reiterate that the amendments proposed by this bill will not undermine in any way the existing rights of people to access information or cause delays in processing applications.

The bill does not affect the scope of information that is required to be disclosed under the act. Rather, the purpose of the bill is simply to help the existing freedom of information regime work more smoothly and more efficiently. The bill proposes amendments to the act that will streamline the processing of the freedom of information applications and reviews. In particular, it will help agencies to focus on tasks that have direct benefits for the applicants. Given the detail that I spoke to at the time of introduction and the comments that Mrs Jones has made, it is not my intention to work through the details of the legislation. They are well on the record here.

Here in the ACT we can be proud of our freedom of information scheme. It genuinely promotes disclosure and it improves the transparency of government. It is vital that we ensure that the scheme works efficiently and effectively so that we can get the


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