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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4898 ..

Ms Horodny: Democracy. Consultation. Look at all of this. What about the cost of all this nonsense here?

MR HUMPHRIES: That may be a very good argument, Ms Horodny, but the fact is that we do not add to the problem. It is a very good argument. Why should we make this amount of material available free of charge when that would effectively discourage people from finding alternative ways of using the material, such as sharing it with other people or reading it at the place where it is made available?

Ms Horodny: That is a lesson you could learn yourself, Mr Humphries, with all the paperwork around here.

MR HUMPHRIES: We have generally moved to a position of cost recovery. Those documents can be very voluminous. I would think for the sake of our environment that we should be working towards discouraging the wanton use of those resources, and charging people for what can be sometimes very thick documents is not inappropriate, particularly when they can get access to them for free in other ways.

MS McRAE (10.20): We will be supporting the Government in this. I take this opportunity to say that, as technology improves, perhaps the Minister could consider scanning and putting these on a computer. People could get them on a disk, or read them on their own computer. Eventually, the level of technology is going to be such that people can put them up on their own computers and on the Internet.

I accept Ms Horodny's basic premise that people should be able to get this material and read it, but we only have to see what came before us today, for heaven's sake. They were just the PERs, never mind the PAs and every other bit of documentation that went around three leases that we got the material for today. You can see that the expense and the inconvenience of copying voluminous documents is not going to be particularly helpful. Given the changes that have come in technology, we could foresee the day when it will be quite easily pulled up either on a public screen or on a personal screen. I urge the Government to take at least that notion on board.

MR MOORE (10.21): I saw the Minister acknowledge that. I think it would not be a bad idea if he indicated that he would instruct his department to prepare that. I agree that this need would be met very easily by having such information available on disk. I would hope that he would instruct his department to investigate the possibility of having material available on disk. From my reading of it, that would meet the amendment that Ms Horodny has put up and you would not need to oppose it. It would then read that a copy of the preliminary assessment would be given to any person on request without charge. It does not say a copy on paper. It could be a copy on a disk. It could be a copy on a CD or whatever. It is a very good argument in support of Ms Horodny's amendment.

MS HORODNY (10.23): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, it is obviously a good idea to have paper and disks available for people, but there is a shortcoming with disks and with the Internet because we cannot assume that everyone out there in the community has a computer. That is a huge assumption to make and I do not think it is an accurate one.

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