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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2287 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

1998 election to undertake an inquiry and feasibility study into the establishment of an ACT archives. Very early in this study we realised that, while it was important to preserve and ensure access to records, it was equally important to guarantee that the records were created and managed properly in the first place.

The legislation is about good record keeping and will assist agencies in properly recording and being accountable for the functions that they undertake. The government has developed the model for records management which is set out in the bill. Under the legislation, each agency will be required to develop and maintain a records management program which will include requirements for the creation, management, protection, preservation, storage and disposal of, as well as access to, the records of the agency.

Agency records management programs will be appropriate and relevant to their functional requirements, utilising whole-of-government standards and codes approved by the minister. This program will be the public face of an agency's record-keeping practices. It will be the primary vehicle for accountability and is to be open for public inspection. The director of territory records will ensure that there is a consistent approach to implementing the standards across government, so that records use common terminology and record keeping can be easily monitored.

There is a deliberate relationship between this legislation and the Freedom of Information Act 1989. This will ensure that government records do not slip between the provisions of two pieces of territory legislation and it reinforces the already strong commitment to effectively manage the records of government. This legislation will support the management of records in an electronic format as the government moves to providing more of its services in an electronic environment. There will soon be a time when documents may only ever exist in an electronic form and agency records management programs will need to manage records in this format.

During the development of this legislation, it has been pleasing to note that a high value is placed on territory records by the community for their historical and research value. This will be a field of increasing importance as the story of our territory is developed and told. It will take time to prepare the territory records, including those that we have inherited from the Commonwealth, for access and research by members of the public. While work will commence immediately on implementing the Territory Records Bill, the final part to be commenced will be the access provisions in 2006.

Finally, I would like to say that I see a continuing role for the community to be involved with the future of territory records. I will be establishing an advisory group for this purpose and I will seek its views on the implementation of this legislation.

Debate (on motion by Mr Berry ) adjourned to the next sitting.

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