Page 1972 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 7 June 2017
online updates. In particular I have been happy to hear that some of these groups are looking for ways to welcome public housing tenants into their communities. This is a sign to me that we really are continuing to develop a more inclusive community and, I believe, supports the finding that more than seven in 10 Canberrans are in favour of continued inclusion of public housing in their suburb. Public housing remains critically important in the ACT and the new homes constructed as part of this program will help us continue to improve outcomes for vulnerable Canberrans, members of our community who have a range of housing and support needs which are unable to be met by the private rental market.
I wish to emphasise once more that the renewal program is about supporting public housing tenants and improving the quality of public housing in creating an even more inclusive Canberra. This government remains committed to our objectives in this regard and we will continue to deliver on this important program.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (11.42): This is an interesting motion which talks about a number of important values. Looking first at what is noted in Mr Parton’s motion, in general we agree. In the Seventh Assembly I moved a motion about open government which was supported by the Liberal Party. Yes, tick that. With respect to paragraph (1)(c), I note that Mr Waterford’s comments were made before the new legislation and, I believe, do not refer to that. As Mr Parton said, in August last year the government passed a new Freedom of Information Act. It was passed, as I understand it, with the agreement of all three parties in the Assembly, importantly, including the Liberal Party, which is really great.
Ms Berry’s amendment contains a lot more detail about the current situation for the ACT government with respect to transparency in process and information. I commend its contents to the Assembly.
Looking at the new FOI legislation, there is a public benefit test that relates to all FOI decisions and it places a duty on ACT government agencies and ministers to proactively publish government information unless it is contrary to the public interest to do so. This recognises, of course, that government information is a public resource and aims to minimise the need for members of the public, or, importantly, from our point of view, members of the Assembly, to file FOI requests simply to access unpublished government information. One of the things that is, I would have to say, incredibly annoying is when you know a report exists and it has not been published.
It is also very important to point out, as Ms Berry did, that under the current FOI procedures, for FOI requests directed at government agencies, it is the agencies themselves that decide how to respond to FOI requests. If they make any redactions, under FOI laws there has to be a clear reason for these. These reasons are enumerated in the legislation which, I understand, was unanimously passed in the last Assembly.
As well as supporting free provision of government information the Greens, and I of course, unambiguously support increased public housing. The ACT Greens believe access to safe, secure, appropriate and affordable housing is a human right and is