Page 4032 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 20 September 2011

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Electronic government documents

Statement by minister

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations), by leave: I am very pleased to have the opportunity today to speak to the Assembly on the open government reforms that are being developed across a number of areas of government and administration. These are reforms that, along with the structural changes to create a single public service, are significantly enhancing how the government can serve, speak with and respond to the community.

In the ministerial statement on open government I made in June this year I committed the government to some important principles. I said I would promote even greater transparency in process and information. I said I would encourage and enable participation by Canberrans in the business of government and I said I would work with the community, drawing on its skills and expertise, to find solutions to issues that we collectively confront as a city.

In that same statement, I set myself, my ministers, the heads of directorates and every single public servant a new default position. I said there ought to be a presumption that information available to the government should also be made available to the community. We as a parliament, as a city and as a community are better placed than almost any parliament, people and city on earth to make greater openness and better communication work to our advantage.

Our system of government is like no other in the country. Our community is smart and brimming with ideas and goodwill. We can do things here in a way that suits us rather than in ways that state and territory governments have traditionally done things. For the first time since self-government we can put in place systems we have designed ourselves and systems that fit.

As Chief Minister I would like to see everything I promise delivered at once, but I also have a duty to see that what I promise is delivered well. I have a duty to see that what is delivered is solidly based; that it does not, while letting the light shine on one aspect of government activity, inadvertently injure an innocent bystander.

The adoption of a default position that information will be made available to the community should not and does not relieve the government of its moral and legal duty to respect the privacy of ordinary Canberrans. It does not exempt the government from its duty to obey the law when it comes to commercial confidentiality or copyright.

The government is pursuing its reform agenda with all possible speed, but not without care and not without caution. That said, today I can assure you that change—cultural, attitudinal and actual change—is taking root right across government. Already we have delivered on, or are well advanced in relation to, a number of the initiatives I announced in June.

I promised to publish a weekly online summary report of cabinet proceedings. The first of these was published on 6 July. A summary of every cabinet meeting since that date now sits online, available to anyone.

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