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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2627 ..

Thursday, 9 August 2001

MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Legislative Assembly (Broadcasting) Bill 2001

Mr Humphries , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.33): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

In June last year the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure tabled its report on the operation of the Legislative Assembly (Broadcasting of Proceedings) Act 1997 and recommended that a number of amendments be made to the act to make proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and its committees more accessible to the public. In its response to the committee report, the government agreed that the current legislation is not sufficiently flexible and needed to be amended.

There are specific difficulties with the administration of the current act in providing access to proceedings. Currently, the legislation requires the Speaker to authorise access to the broadcasting or televising of proceedings every time there is a request. Time taken to administer authorisations for access to the broadcasts is an inefficient and costly process. The act also imposes a range of processes that constrain flexibility. The act limits access to Assembly broadcasts to government employees and lacks flexibility in providing access to the broadcasting of committee inquiries. For example, it blocks access to officers in organisations such as territory-owned corporations. These restrictions were unintended.

This bill amends the current legislation to facilitate open access to the proceedings of the Assembly, thereby providing more flexibility in the administration of the legislation. This bill will replace the Legislative Assembly (Broadcasting of Proceedings) Act 1997 as the proposed amendments would have resulted in the Legislative Assembly (Broadcasting of Proceedings) Act 1997 being almost entirely replaced.

The proposed bill streamlines processes and facilitates greater access to the workings of government. This bill includes the broad principles on access in the legislation, whilst providing for the more technical detail to be addressed by resolution of the Assembly. In order that the Assembly can maintain control over how the broadcasts are used, the bill introduces a mechanism to withdraw access as there will inevitably be circumstances when the Assembly or its committees may need to withdraw the right to record or broadcast proceedings.

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