Page 3450 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 17 August 2011

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Burch said: “No, you can’t possibly have that. It’s cabinet-in-confidence.” I stood here yesterday afternoon and made an argument why, even if it was used in a cabinet process three years ago, the need for that confidentiality may have passed. It seems that somebody had a rush of openness and accountability, and the Oakton report was made available. It was made with such rapidity that I wonder whether the Chief Minister approved it and whether it was actually released in accordance with the cabinet handbook.

Ms Gallagher: Yes, it was.

MRS DUNNE: Good. I am glad that it was released in accordance with the cabinet handbook. But we also have to look at the litany of this Labor government getting at people. There were the efforts to sack the bushfire coroner and there were votes in this place against a judicial inquiry into the bushfires. It is interesting that all of the major natural disasters since 2003 have resulted in substantial inquiries so that we could get to the bottom of the bushfires in Victoria and the floods and cyclones in Queensland. All of these have been inquired into quite extensively, but it could not happen here under the openness and accountability of this Labor government.

There were attacks by Mr Corbell and Mr Stanhope on the former Auditor-General. Every time the Auditor-General said something that was inconvenient for them, they attacked her quite personally and in quite vociferous terms. We have spoken today about the fact that Mr Buchanan from the AMC was unceremoniously frogmarched out of his position and has not received any real justification for that, and nor has the community. There is the bullying inquiry at TCH, which has not been made available, and was deliberately, I and my colleagues contend, dealt with under the Public Interest Disclosure Act so that it would not be released. There is a constant refusal to release the health workforce culture survey.

Let us turn now to my favourite topic, which is the lack of openness and accountability when this government deals with freedom of information. The Liberal Opposition does use the Freedom of Information Act quite frequently to obtain information which should actually be, generally speaking, available. I will leave the most obvious example, but for instance Mr Seselja has asked for freedom of information documents in relation to the solar feed-in tariff, the carbon tax and the implementation of the plastic bag ban, from the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate.

In all of those cases there has been a process going backwards and forwards, where the directorate has refused to process the application until fees are paid. On each of these occasions Mr Seselja has had to go through the process of demonstrating that there was a public interest in the issues, as a means of getting the fees waived. So Mr Seselja had to point out and demonstrate the public interest in relation to the changes in the solar feed-in tariff, in relation to the carbon tax, in relation to plastic bags.

In the TAMS directorate the same thing arose when Mr Seselja sought access to FOI documents in relation to the Majura parkway. Mr Smyth, I understand, has been confronted with similar problems, in that he has been required to establish the public interest grounds by which he should have fees waived.

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