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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (18 April) . . Page.. 1119 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Let me also very emphatically defend this Government's record with respect to freedom of information. The fact is that anybody observing the situation with respect to FOI today, compared with, say, a year and a half ago under the previous Government, would have to acknowledge a very significant improvement in accessibility by citizens in the Territory to freedom of information legislation. It is true that we have asked individual departments and agencies in this Government to accept responsibility for managing FOI issues themselves, but - a matter which Ms Follett fails to acknowledge and probably does not want to know about - we have also massively restructured the fee requirements for FOI information. We have all but abolished fees for access to FOI information.

Members on this side of the chamber are very well aware of the fact that the imposition of fees can be a very significant barrier to access to FOI information. This Government has virtually removed that barrier. In the case of personal information, it has removed it altogether. In the case of other information, there is only a nominal entry charge to obtain FOI information. That is a very significant change in the law. That has enhanced openness in government, not detracted from it. Ms Follett and her former Ministers would well know what a significant barrier fees can be. Hundreds of dollars can be charged for a single application, and were charged under the previous Government. That has all but disappeared under this Government, and that is a major advance.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Discharge from Notice Paper

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.50): In accordance with standing order 152, I move:

That order of the day No. 4, Executive business, relating to the paper presented on the new framework for financial management and Auditor-General legislation, be discharged from the notice paper.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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