Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 June 2017) . . Page.. 1975 ..
any development there, it would generate a lot of negative reactions. But in this case we have had a toxic combination of people being concerned about public housing, being very concerned and surprised that their neighbourhood is changing, and the public consultation not being as good as it could or should be. It has been a toxic combination, and it is really unfortunate that it has come to this.
In the future we need to have better community consultation, and we need to have broader community consultation about how we as a community feel about homelessness, the provision of affordable housing and the provision of social housing. I would hope that there would be a community consensus that this is important and that it is something that we need to continue to put resources to.
The Greens will be supporting Ms Berry’s amendment, but I thank Mr Parton for this motion, because this is an issue that will continue—
Mr Hanson: Shame. Shame, Caroline.
MS LE COUTEUR: to require real debate, not just saying “shame”.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (11.54): I am pleased to talk to this important motion brought forward by my colleague Mr Parton today in relation to information gained under an FOI request. FOIs are very important. They give us the information that we are entitled to. A democratic government should be run for and by the people, not just those in the elected office. There is machinery like FOI working in the background to ensure that information is made available to the public. This ensures accountability, and makes sure that people in any type of public office cannot abuse their power, because they have the knowledge that their actions could come before the public eye.
FOI keeps citizens in the know about what is going on in their government. It allows individuals to see what information the government holds, and to seek correction of that information if they consider it to be wrong or misleading. I am not talking here about personal information, because the FOI legislation sets out very clearly the instances where personal information should not be included.
FOI enhances the transparency of policymaking, administrative decision-making and government service delivery, and that is why it is important. A community that is better informed can participate more effectively in the democratic process. The information gathered by the government at public expense is, in effect, a public resource that should be available to the public more widely.
Information that is held by the government is a very powerful tool. We must all be held accountable for our actions and ensure that we have transparency of information. I refer to the recent example where the Leader of the Opposition put in an FOI request about the use of CF zones for potential public housing, and it came back very heavily redacted. In some cases the information was barely understandable, legible or able to be read. It begs the question why perhaps it was not just denied in the first place.