Elizabeth Lee to formally present FOI Amendment Bill


Canberra Liberals Leader Elizabeth Lee will tomorrow formally present the Freedom of Information Amendment Bill 2022 in the Legislative Assembly.

Ms Lee tabled an exposure draft of the Bill earlier in the year to improve transparency by amending the Freedom of Information Act to create a proactive disclosure provision for government to publicly release records within 30 business days after Cabinet consideration.

“The guiding principle of the bill is to encourage better governance and enhance public confidence in government through transparency,” Ms Lee said.

“Without the checks and balances provided by an upper house in the ACT, we need more open government, not less.

“A culture of secrecy fostered by this Labor-Greens government that has been in power for 21 years and routinely hides their failures from the public by refusing Freedom of Information requests on the grounds they contain Cabinet material.

“Just last week we saw a damning report handed down by the Auditor-General on the procurement and contracting activities for the Acton Waterfront Project that among many problems highlighted the lack of information publicly available on the project.

“This comes on the back of the recent Campbell Primary Modernisation Project that was also slammed by the Auditor General for a lack of probity and the murky CIT contracts that saw almost $9 million paid to one contractor.”

The bill also clearly describes exemptions, where public release of information would reasonably be expected to endanger a person’s life of physical safety, limit a person’s rights, prejudice an ongoing criminal investigation, or disclose information contrary to the public interest.

“This same policy has been operating in New Zealand since 2018, which is a unicameral jurisdiction like our own and the Queensland Labor government recently agreed to this measure following a scathing integrity review.

“If this Labor-Greens government has nothing to hide and is serious about being transparent with Canberrans, they must support this bill,” Ms Lee concluded.