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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1877 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

council to deal with this, and that the ideological position was adopted later on in the course of considering the issue.

I accept that the government of the day had the right to make its own judgments about the framework of the legislation, but I am pleased that the advisory council is now included within the legislation. I am quite proud to have been associated, both for my part and for the Labor Party's part, with bringing this legislation to the Assembly.

That is not to deny that the former government brought forward a territory records bill last year. As I recall, the bill came up among the last pieces of legislation before the last Assembly. It was pretty clear that the amendments that I was putting forward were going to succeed, and it is quite possible that the government thought it was not worth the trouble at that stage, and we just moved on. Notwithstanding that, the then government did the right thing in bringing forward that piece of legislation. It is the custom in this place to lay open such pieces of legislation to amendment by members, subject to their discussions with people in the community.

I particularly want to pay credit to the work that my staff member, Sue Robinson, did in negotiating with professionals in the community to put together these amendments. It was her diligence that gave rise to the amendments as they were prepared. While I have the pleasure of giving the speech on the matter in this place, and I will be on the public record ad infinitum, it is the community groups, who had the energy to raise this as a matter of importance, who should also receive credit. I also wish to mention my caucus colleagues, who encouraged me to prepare these amendments. Finally, I return to my staff member, who was the key to negotiations between my office and the community on these issues.

The legislation is about good record keeping. No matter how we might differ in this place over the various pieces of this legislation, and the parts that one or the other of us might want removed, it is about good record keeping in the end. If I can boast, just for a moment, if the amendments that were included in it by Mr Wood are adopted by this Assembly in the end, it will be about better record keeping. I do note the comments that have been made by Mrs Cross in relation to the matter, but in the end it would be better if the bill was carried complete, with the advisory council mentioned in it.

This bill will encourage open and accountable government-and I think we all say we want that-by ensuring that territory records are created, managed and, where appropriate, preserved in an accessible form. Our style of government does not permit every new government to destroy the records, as once happened in many of the old dynasties, where the libraries were the first casualties of victory in battle. Records are our past and our present for practical purposes, but they are also our future, so it is important to treasure them to the extent that we can, and to the extent that they are a true record of all the work that we do in this place.

What is just as important is that the community feels that what might have been criticised a year or so ago has now been repaired, and I want to particularly thank the Australian Society of Archivists for the work they did with me and my staff in preparing the amendments to the original bill. I know that their contribution will help rebuild any lack of confidence that may have developed in the community in relation to this important issue.

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