Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 2017 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
This is intended to put an end to the position that operated under the previous Government whereby members of the Assembly were denied access to information under FOI on the basis that it was not in the public interest for them to have that information. The classic, perhaps, was the refusal by the former Minister for Sport to provide information on VITAB to the Assembly, on the basis that it was not in the public interest that they should know about the information. I think history has spoken for itself on that subject. We have now made freedom of information truly free in this Territory, or as close as possible to that. Might I also say, though, that devolving the FOI functions to delivery areas, I think, would be an effective means of ensuring that line areas properly deal with the issues that gives rise to. I would have thought I would have had praise from Mr Connolly for that particular issue, particularly because, on 7 October 1993, before the Estimates Committee he made the following statement about FOI:
Some of the procedures that we inherited from when it was run in Chief Minister's was the situation of clearly duplicating work where agencies make decisions and transfer them to the coordinating unit.
What we are trying to do is devolve the processing and be there as an advice and support agency.
He was actually proposing to let line areas look after FOI matters and reserve the FOI component within the Attorney-General's Department as an advice and support agency. Thank you; that is exactly what the Liberal Government has done. It is funny how a few months on the Opposition benches can change your whole perspective on life, is it not?
MS TUCKER: My question is to Mr Humphries as Minister responsible for animal welfare. Mr Humphries, I do not know whether you noticed Ms Horodny hold up a sheet of A4 paper. That is the area that one hen has at present. You do not need training in law school to make a comment on that; you just need a sense of compassion. I refer to an autopsy report conducted on 12 hens from Parkwood Eggs by an increasingly well known and unfairly maligned farm vet. In that report, bird D2 was found to have been dead for around five days. This bird was far too decomposed to give an accurate post-mortem. Bird D7 was found to have no food in the abdomen and trauma to head and neck. Does the Minister believe that it is acceptable that animals be left to starve? Should they be left to die of stress and disease? You ask: What should we do? The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee itself was so unhappy with this national code we have adopted locally in the interim that they wanted it revisited. That is what we are asking. Will you do it?
MR HUMPHRIES: Ms Tucker raises the question of the operation of the code. I want to outline the history of what has happened with that code, to illustrate to her how this and preceding governments have tried to ensure that we conform with national standards in this area. The current ACT code was taken from edition two of the national code and was approved in May 1993. That code originally prescribed 600 square centimetres per bird to be the minimum standard from 1 January 1995.