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Public Sector (Data Sharing) Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading

(Continued from 22 September 2016)

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 17:19 :57 ): This bill has two main objectives: to establish the office of data analytics and to facilitate the sharing of data between government agencies and other non-government agencies. I am wholeheartedly supportive of data sharing between government agencies for the purpose of improving service provision. The Premier has often spoken of the importance of the Public Service adopting a whole-of-government approach, and I believe that data sharing forms part of this. I have raised issues with both the Premier and ministers when I have been frustrated that a whole-of-government approach is not being taken. In fact, I have experienced cases where there is not even a whole-of-department approach, let alone a whole-of-government approach. I am supportive of anything that will improve and facilitate this.

However, I am not supportive of establishing an agency which, from what I can understand, is merely there to gather and analyse data for cabinet. The bill does not provide any details on who instructs the office for data analytics, what their objective is or the purpose of their information gathering. During a briefing on this bill, my office requested clarification on the role of the office for data analytics and was advised that the ODA was not there to facilitate data sharing between agencies, as agencies would be able to enter into data sharing agreements themselves.

We were advised that the ODA would receive instructions from cabinet to gather information based on the government of the day's priorities to assist with policy development. I would be very happy to hear from the minister on this, particularly if the minister could provide greater details on the mandate of the office for data analytics. I understand there are scant details on the ODA too. When questioned about the size of the ODA and its estimated budget, my office was advised that these issues remained undecided and would be determined once the bill was passed.

This sounds like pure and simple empire building to me and would not satisfy any cost-benefit analysis. We have a bill before us that wants us to legislate for a new office, but we do not know what it is there to do, where it will be placed, which agency or minister will host it, how big it will be and how much it will cost. Of late, the government has had a disturbing trend of asking the parliament to pass bills with little information on consequential operational matters. When questioned, the response is always, 'We will figure it out later and sort it out through regulation.' This is not good enough.

By categorising this bill as part of the child protection reforms, the government may play politics and accuse us of not taking child protection seriously. However, it has not been adequately explained how this bill, particularly the establishment of the office for data analytics, will assist in child protection. If the government provides further information on the matters I have raised, then my stance on this may change, but until that time I reserve my position on this bill.

Debated adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.