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Thursday, June 25, 2009

NSW Government Information Bill debate in all the gory detail.

Just on the off-chance that you have a little time on your hands or an overwhelming thirst for the detail, I've put together here the various extracts from Hansard of debate in both Houses of NSW Parliament on the Government Information (Public Access) Bill and related legislation. It runs to 90 pages, starting with the Premier's statement on 17 June, two hours of speeches in the Legislative Assembly on 23 June, and three separate discussions in the Legislative Council on 24 June including consideration of The Greens' amendments around the witching hour. Some of the point-scoring dismissive rejection by the Attorney General of sensible amendments doesn't instil confidence that there was an interest in the best possible outcome.

The two relatively minor amendments accepted by the Government and passed by the Council need to be run by the Assembly of course. That will be routine, today or tomorrow, before Parliament rises to return in September. Haven't seen anything regarding commencement date.

It wasn't a good look on the day of this generally great leap forward to have a report from the Bureau of Crime Statistics suppressed from publication on "Cabinet-in Confidence" grounds. The Attorney General says it will be released in two weeks. By the way under neither the existing FOI Act nor new legislation is there a "Cabinet-in Confidence" exemption that would apply to a report such as this unless it could be shown it was prepared for the purpose of submission to Cabinet ("dominant purpose" in the new world).

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