Whole documents that have "sensitive information" about children or young people are now not able to be accessed through freedom of information in a significant challenge to transparency of the system and access to information in the ACT.
As journalists were busy poring over budget papers on Tuesday, the government, with the support of the Greens, quietly passed laws described as creating some of the most secretive conditions in the nation.
The amendments to the Freedom of Information Act mean documents that include sensitive information, like care and protection report information, care and protection appraisal information, and information prescribed by regulation, which would include professional reports, would not be released.
This is despite the legislation already allowing for the deletion of information within a document and allowing for the protection of people who report child abuse, and the identities of children and their families.
But these new laws go further, creating an environment where even people involved in these cases cannot access their own information through freedom of information.
The explanatory statement said it was to correct a "technical anomaly" with the current laws. But the government had a choice to change one Act, and they chose the one that excludes access to information.
The anomaly is two Acts say similar but different things. The Children and Young Persons Act protects the release of all sensitive information. The Freedom of Information Act allowed for the release of sensitive information, if it was in the public interest.
Is it astonishing to see further changes to restrict access to information being introduced in an area the government is not performing particularly well in, hence an inquiry being undertaken to look at systemic issues.
It begs the question: who is the government trying to protect?
The effect of the legislation means the government can't be properly scrutinised for decisions or effects of decisions in the child protection sector.
This is the opposite of what the Glanfield Review into the ACT's child protection system recommended in 2016. The review stated if the government wanted to improve they would need to improve the quality of, and transparency in, Child and Youth Protection Services decision making and practices.
Amid a wider debate in Australia about freedom of information and the media's right to report what's in the public interest, the government should have listened to the community and not rushed through changes that could be detrimental to some of the most vulnerable.