Page 1759 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2017
from an institution there is no limitation period on their right to take legal action. And these amendments will provide the same right to compensation for child sexual abuse in other contexts.
There is a key item that implements a government commitment in this bill and that is an amendment to the Gaming Machine Act to increase the problem gambling assistance fund levy from 0.6 per cent to 0.75 per cent of gross gaming revenue. Although this is not, legislatively or in terms of policy, a drastic change it is an important and significant demonstration of the government’s commitment to harm reduction.
I note Mr Hanson’s indication that the Canberra Liberals will be opposing part 7. I note that the amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 2016 that are contained in that part of the bill are reasonable and practical. The new FOI Act will strengthen the community’s right to access government-held information unless, on balance, releasing the information would be contrary to public interest. It is a significant departure from the current legislation adopting a push model through an open access scheme. It includes a greater proactive and routine release of information, a new right to information and a maximum disclosure of non-personal information.
Significant changes require significant work and significant preparation. The Justice and Community Safety Directorate is responsible for implementation broadly and in addition the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate has the responsibility for operational matters such as the open access scheme and territory records. The change to the commencement date by six months is to allow the ACT public service sufficient time to prepare for the start of the new scheme.
The scheme involves a significantly different structure and a substantial new role for the Ombudsman. The amendment provides additional time to undertake the necessary preparatory work such as changing the internal guidelines and the processes for responding to FOI requests. The government has been and continues to be in negotiation with the Ombudsman regarding his role.
I remind members of the Assembly that under an agreement between the ACT government and the Australian government the commonwealth Ombudsman is also the ACT Ombudsman. It is also important that the new scheme does not commence at the same time as the reportable conduct scheme.
Secondly, the amendments clarify the scope for information that is open access, ensuring that the new publication scheme is feasible to implement. Open access information requires ensuring that information is suitably formatted for online publication and the government will do this from 1 January 2018 onwards. The amendment in today’s bill ensures that there is no suggestion that public service agencies will have to retrieve paper files from the past, potentially back to the commencement of self-government, and scan them in as part of the new scheme. That was never the intention of the new scheme.
Finally, the amendments clarify that where the Ombudsman has been called in to mediate a freedom of information dispute the government will cover the cost of the