Legislative Council: Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Cross Border Commissioner

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:28): I seek leave before asking a question of the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development regarding the office for the Cross Border Commissioner.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: On 12 March, my office received a transfer of multiple freedom of information applications from PIRSA to the office of the Cross Border Commissioner on the basis that such documents were not held by the department. However, the department then proceeded to state that within the office of the Cross Border Commissioner, and I quote:

There is no officer who may currently lawfully deal with Freedom of Information applications made to the commissioner, and therefore, the legislative timeframe may expire before a new Commissioner is appointed.

So my questions to the minister are:

1. Given that the service level agreement between the department and the office of the Cross Border Commissioner includes providing secretariat services, which include freedom of information processes, why has the department refused to make a determination on such applications?

2. Has this decision been at the minister's discretion?

3. Does the minister concede that, given there has been no progress by the department in over three months in appointing a new Cross Border Commissioner, the office of the Cross Border Commissioner has been unable to fulfil its obligated duties as a result of her lack of leadership?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:30): I thank the honourable member for her question. It is not unusual that in a small agency there is not an FOI officer directly within that agency. The Cross Border Commissioner consists of the commissioner and one staff member. In terms of responses to FOI requests, my understanding is that the responses were made according to advice received about the most appropriate action.