Page 427 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 4 March 2008

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Freedom of Information Act, pursuant to subsection 63 (3)—Statement of reasons of decision relating to school closures, dated 4 February 2008.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave not granted.

Suspension of standing orders

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.53): I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Mrs Dunne from making a statement concerning the statement of reasons of the decision relating to school closures presented by Mr Barr (Minister for Education and Training) under the Freedom of Information Act.

This afternoon we have had two matters in relation to the Freedom of Information Act brought in by the Treasurer and Chief Minister and by the minister for education. To my recollection, it is the first time in the history of the ACT that members of the ACT Legislative Assembly have had to be reported to in relation to conclusive certificates. This freedom of information matter saw an unprecedented use of conclusive certificates.

We have seen the decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on a number of matters that showed that, in the view of the tribunal, a three-member tribunal, it was not in the best interests of the public that these matters be subject to conclusive certificates. It is inappropriate that, on this occasion when there is such an important matter of freedom of access to information in this place, we cannot even spend 2½ minutes or three minutes having a debate in relation to this.

The ministers have sort of slid it in under the radar to some extent. In fact, Minister Barr’s statement has not yet been circulated. Minister Barr did, however, have the courtesy to write to me in anticipation of this. However, the Chief Minister has not—

Mr Barr: I wrote to you a month ago.

MRS DUNNE: No, you wrote an undated letter which was received in my office on 29 February. The Chief Minister has not, in fact, written to me in relation to this matter and I presume he has not written to Mrs Barden in relation to this matter. The documents over which he has revoked conclusive certificates have not been provided to the parties, so far as I can tell. They have certainly not been provided to me and, as far as I can tell, not to Mrs Barden. This is why it would be a matter of course and courtesy to allow a member of this place to make a brief statement on a matter which is of monumental significance.

It is the first time that a minister has been brought to book by the AAT and has had to come into this place and give reasons why they have issued certificates or continued to issue certificates in defiance of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and we do not even have the opportunity to make a statement in relation to this. This is why the

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