Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 July 2008) . . Page.. 2622 ..
DR FOSKEY: I table the following documents:
Gas fired power station and data centre—Freedom of information request—Various papers (4).
Finally, I want to quote from the Freedom of Information Act because it really is the crux of this. Section 36, under the heading “Internal Working Documents” on page 42 states:
(1) Subject to this section, a document is an exempt document if its disclosure under this Act—
(a) would disclose matter in the nature of, or relating to, opinion, advice or recommendation obtained, prepared or recorded, or consultation or deliberation that has taken place, in the course of, or for the purposes of, the deliberative processes involved in the functions of an agency or Minister or of the Territory; and—
that is pretty broad and maybe could apply—
(b) would be contrary to the public interest.
Not once was the matter of public interest invoked in relation to any of the documents that were released or any of the documents that were not released. It is a concern to me and my office that the public interest does not appear to have been at the base of the decisions—it certainly was not declared to be—and therefore I think that the jury is still out on whether the government released all documents. It is very clear that there is a period in which there is quite a black hole in terms of document availability and so I think it is a very reasonable question to ask.
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (4.33): Why did the government fail to release all these documents? My colleagues have gone through chapter and verse what those documents were and what those numbers were. I want to go straight to the core of why the government did this. It is quite clear that the government wanted to keep the project shrouded. They wanted to keep the processes shrouded. They were embarrassed by stuffing up.
Nobody on this side is directly accusing anybody, officials or others, of corruption. What we are simply saying is that the government were hell-bent—or, to quote an ActewAGL official, “no matter what it takes”—on pushing and ramming this particular project through. And it is because of their failure to push that process correctly, to take the community into their confidence with what they had planned to do, the severe embarrassment of the way that they failed in their governance of this whole project, that they have not released documents, that they have withheld documents. That is fundamentally what is at the heart of Mr Smyth’s MPI.
What we have seen here today is clearly an argument put forward again which would indicate that officials minimised at all times from July 2007 onwards the efficacy of