Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 June 2017) . . Page.. 1977 ..
The motion today calls on the government to provide the Assembly with details of all the community facilities zoned land that is being considered for or has been earmarked for development of public housing. This is information that is readily available. I take the point in the amendment moved by Ms Berry that the government do not direct government departments what to release in FOI requests, but the government can still release this information if they so choose.
There is reference in the amendment circulated by Ms Berry to factors that serve as a basis for redacting information, as clearly set out in the FOI Act. I can read out some of those bases for exempt documents. They include documents exempt under the commonwealth act, documents affecting relations with commonwealth and states, executive documents, internal working documents, documents affecting enforcement of the law and protection of public safety, documents affecting national security, defence or international relations, documents to which secrecy provisions of enactments apply, documents affecting financial or property interests of the territory, documents concerning certain operations of agencies, documents affecting personal privacy, documents subject to legal professional privilege, documents relating to business affairs et cetera, documents affecting the economy, documents containing material obtained in confidence, documents the disclosure of which would be in contempt of the Legislative Assembly or a court, certain documents arising out of companies and securities legislation, and electoral rolls and related documents.
From a very simplistic reading, it would not appear that providing this information would contravene any of those, except exempt documents. In fact, at some point the information about the location of these planned facilities will be in the public domain, when a DA process and a consultation process take place. Obviously, there is a point by which time it will be in the public domain, anyway.
In fact, this was referred to in one of those documents. One of the points that was not redacted was the public housing task force minutes, which referred to the fact that consultation would be required because of expected community outcry about these proposals. It is already there in the public domain, so why can’t we have this conversation? Why can’t we provide the information to the public to start that discussion? It is because the government is hiding behind a veil of secrecy. It is time for the government to lift that veil of secrecy. It is vital for the confidence of the community—a community that is fed up with the secrecy that is going on with this government.
I believe the government should make the public aware of their intention for the use of CFZ land. They need to be open and accountable, and make the public aware of the information that was redacted about which community facilities zoned pieces of land will be used for housing. The government need to support the FOI Act and make available to the public information about the operations of agencies, as is quite clearly stated in the object of the act.
MR WALL (Brindabella) (12.05): I move the following amendment to Ms Berry’s proposed amendment: