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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 159 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I would also like to restate the comments I made at the commencement of the term of this Government for the need for open communication in legislative planning and preparation for debate in this place. I am sure that members will find the Government's legislation program extremely helpful in planning their own programs and preparing for debate on relevant issues. Mr Speaker, it would be of great benefit to the planning of this place, of course, for the Labor Party - the Opposition - to also put on the table their plans for legislation during this term, in the interests of communication and an open Assembly. This would be of great benefit to all members of the Assembly. Unfortunately, at this stage that has not happened.

Mr Speaker, I commend the paper to the Assembly.

Report on Draft Guidelines for the Treatment of Commercial Information Held by Government Agencies - Government Response
Principles and Guidelines - Paper

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.16): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the Government's response to Report No. 2 of the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio, entitled "Commercial Information held by ACT Agencies - draft principles and guidelines", which was presented to the Assembly on 29 October 1998, together with the "Principles and Guidelines for Treatment of Commercial Information held by ACT Government Agencies". I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the papers.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to table the Government's response to the report of the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio on draft principles and guidelines for commercial information held by ACT government agencies. I am also taking the opportunity today to table the finalised version of the principles and guidelines, which takes into account the committee's report. These guidelines will now be implemented by ACT government agencies.

I welcome the standing committee's report on the general approach taken in the guidelines. The standing committee did have some reservations about the limited application of the guidelines to the provision of information to the Legislative Assembly and its committees. Some changes have been made. However, the main focus of the guidelines is the management of information by government agencies. The Assembly's approach to the exercise of its powers to obtain and publish information should be resolved in the context of discussion within the Assembly.

I am pleased, however, that the guidelines have prompted a more detailed look at this issue through last year's referral to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure. That committee is now looking at some procedural questions relating to Assembly and committee access to commercially sensitive information and the use of in-camera hearings.

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