Page 2281 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 16 June 2009

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Dear Mr Hanson

I am writing following the issuing by your office and continued publication on the Canberra Liberals’ website of the above media release.

I wish to make you aware of a number of concerns that I have with the accuracy of the information contained within the release, and possible interpretations to be drawn by readers, commentators and the general public arising from the release.

Firstly, the management of matters relating to requests under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act for documents held by ACT Health rest with ACT Health. The Minister for Health has played no role in the response to any request for access to documents under the FOI Act, nor did the Minister exercise any decision making capacity in relation to this or any other application. You may not have been aware of this, so I am informing you of this now.

Secondly, any criticism that you or your colleagues have with the handling of any matter dealt with by ACT Health under the FOI Act should be directed to ACT Health in the first instance. As you may be aware the Act has a number of provisions available to applicants to seek a review of any decision taken by an agency in relation to any application. In the matter that you referred to in your media release, ACT Health is not aware of any action that the applicant has taken to formally address any concerns with the handling of this matter by us, consistent with provisions of the Act. Again, you may not be aware of these provisions, so I am informing you of these provisions now.

Thirdly, you have asserted in writing, published and encouraged the public utterance and broadcasting of the following claim, “this shows yet another case of a shameful attempt to cover up the Minister’s embarrassment by misuse of process”. Given that the Minister has played no role in this FOI application, and that the FOI application process is being handled exclusively by ACT Health, it would be reasonable for a member of the public to assume that ACT Health is the object of your claims of “cover up” and “misuse of process.” I am prepared to accept that you may not have intended this interpretation. Nevertheless the interpretation is open to be made by a reasonable person.

Fourthly, (and for the sake of completeness) I categorically reject as baseless and untrue any allegation that I, or any of the ACT Health officers responsible for dealing with this FOI application have participated in a “cover up” or “misuse of process.”

In the light of the above, I believe that it is appropriate that you withdraw this allegation, and this is best done by withdrawing the media release in its current form. I believe that it is also appropriate that you take appropriate steps to clarify your published statement.

While ever this remains unclarified by you, the reputation of the integrity of myself and that of the officers responsible for managing this FOI process has the potential to be unfairly called into question.

I look forward to your response.

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