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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2485 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The guidelines also propose a protocol for the circumstances where in-camera evidence to a committee would be appropriate. This proposal overlooks the powers and responsibilities of the Assembly and its committees. The committee, noting the role of the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure in matters concerning the operation of the Assembly and its standing orders, has recommended that the Assembly invite the Administration and Procedure Committee to examine this proposal, together with the public interest immunity concept.

My committee recognises the difficulty in writing a set of rules which cover every eventuality. It further observes that Federal privacy legislation represents a model for a positive approach to the disclosure of information and expresses a view that the basis of disclosure will depend to a large degree on Ministers and the Government acting in good faith.

The committee expresses a hope that goodwill and commonsense will prevail in dealing with committee requests for disclosure. It is vital for good government that we take a positive view to the promulgation of information. For example, the guidelines could incorporate an indicative confidentiality clause which would allow for confidentiality unless certain conditions prevailed. As an example of how guidelines should be constructed, the committee has recommended the inversion of that provision so that the norm is publication unless there are very good reasons not to publish. As I mentioned earlier, Federal freedom of information legislation is a model in its positive approach and its requirement for people who are requested to provide information to assist in providing information relevant to the particular inquiry of the requester. I commend the report to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Report on Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 7 of 1997

MR QUINLAN (4.17): Mr Speaker, I present Public Accounts Committee Report No. 10 of the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio, entitled "Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 7, 1997 - The Disability Program and Community Nursing", together with a copy of the extracts of the minutes of proceedings. I move:

That the report be noted.

Within this audit report, the significant findings were that, with some exceptions, the disability program in the ACT was managed reasonably and effectively. It also found that it was not possible to form an opinion on efficiency, because of lack of financial data, but observed that residential costs within the disability program are materially higher than those in other States. It is a little disturbing, given that ACT Community Care, which operates this program, is a fairly recent offshoot of the department itself. The audit report also concluded that community nursing was managed efficiently and effectively. It found that there was no clear planning approach to meeting the demand for disability program services.

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