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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 September 2015) . . Page.. 2978 ..

of administration is actually a reduction for government rather than for business. I encourage the government to continue with bills of this sort, and I encourage the government to focus on reducing red tape for business and not just for themselves.

There is a minor amendment to clean up some language that we will be supporting; it has no consequence to the bill. We will be supporting this bill, and I look forward to further bills being brought forward by the government to reduce the burden of red tape on the community and not just on government.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.40): This bill has a raft of amendments in it that all relate to trying to reduce the administrative burden from a range of areas across government. It covers changes to newspaper advertising of government notices; the creation of Access Canberra in the Public Sector Management Act; the Hawkers Act and Public Unleased Land Act consolidation; and Workers Compensation Act reporting requirements.

When it comes to newspaper advertising of government notices, this bill changes references in all the relevant pieces of ACT legislation—about 80 acts—relating to publishing notices in a newspaper. The bill does not intend to at all diminish the government’s commitment and intent to ensure that the government continues to consult with and notify the public on issues and processes where public notification already occurs. What the bill does is replace any clauses that specify that public notice must be given through publishing in a newspaper to instead state that public notice must be given. The definition of “public notice” is being broadened to include information on an ACT government website or information in a daily newspaper circulating in the ACT.

It is important that this definition of public notice is updated. The digital age is having a huge impact on our communications and people are changing at a fairly rapid pace their habits of from where they get their information. I cannot imagine how many people actually read the public notices section of the newspaper anymore. I am sure there are still some, but I think it is a declining tradition. At this stage I believe that it is the government’s intention to continue to place notices in our daily newspaper, ideally with a direction to new government websites, but notices will also be made available online on relevant ACT government websites.

We live in a time where the overwhelming majority—over 90 per cent of Canberrans—have regular access to computers, so moving towards online notifications makes sense. But we have to be very careful that we do not leave behind those people who do not have regular online access. We must be sure we do not accidentally exclude people from lower income households or people who might be unemployed and do not have access to computers at work, for example.

This is a great opportunity for the government to think differently about public communications, to ensure that we are talking to the right people and to better target online information to particular relevant audiences. But as we transition to new processes, we need to keep an eye on who is able to access the information online and who actually accesses it. We should ensure that internal government procedures cover this issue, including targeted stakeholder communications.

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