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Monday, July 28, 2008

ACT Government to look into FOI reform

The ACT Government has released for public comment a discussion paper on Governance with recommendations aimed at improving community engagement and feedback. It includes a section on access to information issues, recommending examination of what can be done to encourage the use and reuse of government information, and a close look at the Solomon Report on the Queensland Freedom of Information Act to see what might be applied in the Territory. See Citizen Centred Governance .

Some were unimpressed. Submissions close 8 September.

An early test of the Government's interest may come with a vote on an Opposition Bill to abolish conclusive certificates- a Solomon recommendation in Queensland where they have rarely if ever been used, and on the casualty list across the lake in Canberra where Senator Faulkner last week presaged their removal from the Federal FOI Act. As the Canberra Times reported:
"The Stanhope Labor Government has used conclusive certificates to prevent the release of cabinet and other government documents relating to the strategic and functional review of the ACT public sector and the closure of ACT Government schools. In November 2007, Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne introduced a private member's Bill to abolish conclusive certificates for ACT cabinet and internal working documents. Yesterday, in the light of Federal Labor's FoI changes, she called on the Stanhope Government to support her Bill. ''The pressure is now on the chief minister to support the Opposition's FoI legislation when it is debated in the Legislative Assembly next month,'' she said.

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