Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2004 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

We need to be careful about retrospectivity. We have to be careful about exactly who gets caught up in the net when the trawling starts. I have some sympathy with the position Mr Hird put that it should be 10 years. The only reason I did not support it is a near-obsession with openness, transparency and accountability in government. But I do understand that Mr Hird was saying 10 years out of respect for the sensitivities of those people who might be caught up in fishing trips by those trawling through cabinet documents.

I want to highlight the position from the perspective of someone who was actually there at the time. There have been a number of cabinet decisions taken during the last 10 years of self-government with which I had something to do in providing background information and opinion based on experience. If people did a trawl through cabinet documents, they would find written words from me, for example, on the possibility of a slow-stream rehabilitation centre for older people recovering after major trauma in hospital. That issue has still not gone away. That issue is still on the agenda. The government is considering it. It is called a step-down facility. The opposition is considering it. When we go back through all the documents, there I am.

Mr Humphries probably remembers only too well that the submission that was put forward during my day was for a facility that hopefully would appear on the Acton peninsula where the hospice used to be. If we ever get into a political blue about the pros and cons of that service-I hope that we would not-and documents going back to 1989-91 were pulled out, my name would come up. I make no apologies for the advice I gave then, because it was frank. But it certainly was not fearless. It was steeped in fear.

I commend the report to the chamber. The inquiry was not taken on lightly. Mr Kaine made the good point that nobody involved in the processes before now thought for a moment that their comments, opinions and decisions would be released. We need to obtain the permission of each and every one of them, right down to middle-management level, or not do it at all. That is why we support the no retrospectivity recommendation. I commend the report to the house.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.57): I have not had a chance to read the report very thoroughly, so I do not purport to take a view on it. Of course, I will need to consider it fairly urgently, since I understand Mr Moore proposes to bring on his Executive Documents Release Bill this week for debate.

I want to make a few comments about some of the things that have been said in this debate. First of all, the question is very vexed as to how long a cabinet document should remain secret before it is revealed to the cold, hard light of public gaze. There is a fairly strong argument to say that the present 30-year rule is too long; that it provides for process to be exposed to public gaze after far too long a period of time. There is an argument for a much shorter period. The question whether it should be six or 10 years is at the nub of this debate. I will consider that position, and so will my party, before the debate on Thursday.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .