Page 2240 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have not withheld any documents from the opposition—none. It is a fiction, of course, that the Liberal Party continues to run in ignorance of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act, the legislation.

The Freedom of Information Act has been fairly consistent in its operation over recent years. It has been administered, as always, by designated freedom of information officers acting consistently with their statutory obligations and responsibilities and distant from executive influence. It has always been that way. At least I hope it has. It has since this government came to office, and I assumed and hoped that it was the situation under the previous government.

When, as Leader of the Opposition, I made a request for documents relevant to the Bruce Stadium, this is just one of the thousands of documents that were released to me that looked like this. This is a Bruce Stadium document which the previous government released to me under the Freedom of Information Act.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR STANHOPE: This is a Bruce Stadium document released to me by the previous government, by the Liberal Party, under the Freedom of Information Act. This is what it looks like. It looks like this. This is the status of documents released to me in relation to Bruce Stadium by the Liberal Party when they were in government. I assume that that decision to release the documents about Bruce Stadium in this condition was made by a freedom of information officer acting consistently with his obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

I assume—and always have assumed—that it was not a minister, that it was not Bill Stefaniak or Brendan Smyth that was involved in the decision to release documents relating to the Bruce Stadium in this form. I have never assumed, but the Liberal Party in its questioning to me seems to assume that I, as a minister, have some role or involvement. If that is the case, am I to assume that Brendan Smyth or Bill Stefaniak or whoever it was that handled this particular request involved themselves in the decision to do this to the documents in relation to the Bruce Stadium that I received? Is that what I am to assume?

If this is the standard they expect of me or they assume applies to this government, is that the standard that they applied in government—that when I made requests under the Freedom of Information Act for documents and when they came back like this to me, it actually was a decision of the minister? Is that what the Liberal Party is saying, that Liberal Party ministers believed ministers should be involved in decisions about whether or not documents should be released?

This is a document released to me as Leader of the Opposition by the Liberal Party when in government. Is the Liberal Party now telling me that they would not have hesitated as a minister to instruct a freedom of information officer that they were to deliver documents in this form to me? Is that what they are saying? I never assumed that that is what they were saying, but this line of questioning, of course, leads me to no other possible conclusion than that when I was delivered documents like this

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