Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 11 August 2016) . . Page.. 2748 ..
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change) (11.55): The government will not be supporting this amendment, although I recognise that it would appear to have the support of the opposition. I just want to make it clear for the record that the commencement date of 1 July next year is entirely unreasonable. This is a major change to the operation of freedom of information law in the territory. It is going to come at a significant cost to the territory. Whilst it is for this place, of course, to judge whether or not it is reasonable to have such costs in the scheme, by choosing whether or not to support this bill in its final form the issue that must be had regard to is the fact that there will need to be a complete retraining of staff across the ACT government in how the law operates. There will also need to be discussions, consultations and, ultimately, financing secured to enable the Ombudsman to perform the role proposed in this bill, which is supported, as I understand it, by the opposition and Mr Rattenbury.
These are all matters that will take some time to resolve. The government is not seeking to avoid the implementation of this law, but we have already acknowledged—and Mrs Dunne and Mr Rattenbury have acknowledged—that there is probably going to be a need to go back and look at this act again in the next Assembly, to redraft, to correct errors and to make it more legible so it can be interpreted. So we are already saying that we have to go back, redraft it and debate amendments in the term of the next Assembly. And then we also have to appropriate it, implement it and have it operational by 1 July.
That is an unreasonable ask for whoever is in government later this year. My suggestion, which was to have been moved in my amendment No 1, was for 1 July 2018, but I am willing to adopt the position that it would be 1 January 2018 because that at least allows a 12-month transition, an appropriation to be secured, an agreement with the Ombudsman to be secured, retraining and employment of additional ACT government staff to be finalised, and for a smooth implementation of the scheme; let alone this place’s reconsideration of the act early next year which we have all now acknowledged will need to happen anyway. I think there is an unseemly rush in relation to the implementation of the act. I would ask members to reconsider whether or not they should support the commencement date proposed by Mr Rattenbury.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.58): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting this amendment. We have considered it at great length. The initial proposal for the legislation to commence in six months is really too much of an ask and I think that even Mr Rattenbury will concede that to some extent. The counterproposal put forward by the government to spread this out to July 2018, essentially two years down the track, I think is a sign the government is not really committed to this process. Having been a member of this place for not as long as Mr Corbell but having worked in this place before Mr Corbell came into this place and having worked in government, something that I marvel at from time to time is that there does not seem to be a sense of urgency to get things done in our public service and there is a tendency to have long lead times when they are not necessarily needed.