Page 619 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 11 February 2009

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There will also need to be further discussion about targets, but if we provide strong targets for consumers, carers and other groups to comment on from the outset, we will get much better informed plans and outcomes. I would also be interested in discussing further the consumer-focused survey results which were noted by the health minister, Ms Gallagher, and also by Ms Burch, and, in particular, whether these included other services outside the health system, what parts of the health system they included and how the survey was conducted.

Motion agreed to.

Standing and temporary orders—suspension

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Women) (12.11): I move:

That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent order of the day No. 2, Executive business, relating to the Freedom of Information Amendment Bill 2008 (No 2), being called on and debated cognately with order of the day No 1, Private Members’ business, relating to the Freedom of Information Amendment Bill 2008.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (12.12): I am rising to speak on the question of the appropriateness of debating these two bills together. Given that there is a significant degree of overlap between the two bills, it does not seem unreasonable that members have the opportunity to express views on the issues in the two bills during the debate today. This is why we are supporting a cognate debate.

It is worth noting that it does mean that the Assembly is considering an executive bill on private members’ day, which is unfortunate. However, given that it is in the context of debate on Mrs Dunne’s bill, which is for a significant reform that the Greens and the opposition have been arguing for over many years now, it does not seem unreasonable to make effective use of the Assembly’s time and to consider both sets of views or the range of views on these issues while having this debate. Further, I imagine it will be instructive for other members of the Assembly to understand the position of the government and the Attorney-General in relation to FOI applications and their views on how the act should operate.

At the end of the day, I anticipate that the same outcome will be reached, whether or not we have the cognate debate, and the Assembly will have taken a significant first step along the road of FOI reform and improvement in government transparency. I do hope that the government appreciates the opportunity granted to it by the Assembly and will be prepared to extend the courtesy on future occasions when private members have reasonable arguments for including private members’ business during executive business.

Question resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.

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