With almost Yes Minister-esque irony, the faux consultation process for—of all things—the ACT Government’s reformed Public Interest Disclosure Act shows Open Government was just spin designed to prolong the plausibility of this rabble as an effective and accountable Government.
Yesterday, the Chief Minister tabled the Public Interest Disclosure Bill in the Soviet. I eagerly sought to determine how the Bill had changed from the Exposure Draft released in the shadow of Christmas (22 December 2012), so I headed off to the Legislation Register to download that earlier draft. Low and behold, the Exposure Draft and arrangements for consultation have all mysteriously disappeared! And yes, other previous Exposure Drafts for consultations which have concluded DO remain available on the Register, so I can only conclude that someone has chosen to, or directed that, the original Exposure Draft for this particular consultation be removed.
I was also pretty sure that the Government had committed to publish all submissions received; however, with the arrangements for consultation removed, how can anyone show this? Never fear, in my previous rant, ACTPS_Comms chimed in and assured me as follows:
“In relation to publication of submissions made, the Consultation Guide states “All submissions (including summaries of submissions made in person) will be made publicly available”. (see http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ca/db_43764/current/pdf/db_43764.pdf )”
They are certainly not on the Community Engagement website.
Let’s go through this latest example of Open Government item by item:
- Exposure Draft dumped right before Christmas to starve it of any oxygen;
- Exposure Draft removed from Legislation Register so you cannot see how the Bill has changed from the earlier draft to incorporate public comments;
- consultation arrangements removed from Legislation Register so you cannot hold them to their previous commitments regarding consultation;
- public submissions not published, despite explicit assurances to the contrary.
Surely one does not have to FOI public submissions to a public consultation process?