Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4977..
MS REILLY (continuing):
There are some other aspects of the consultation protocol that have to be considered. How can you have an openness of discussion and consultation when there is fear within the community sector that, if they say the wrong thing, they will be defunded? With competitive tendering, there is fear that, if you share some of your information, somebody else might pinch your idea. It does not provide openness of working when people are frightened of some of the possible outcomes.
The first sentences in the protocol give some indication of the issues surrounding consultation. It says that consultation is a process which "allows Government to make informed decisions", and it goes on to say what the Government will do in this process. It is a very top-down process; and that is another issue that needs to be looked at. To get the best answer, we need to be looking at a consultative process that is a meeting of equal partners.
Some of the issues that have arisen in the last two years, when I have been here, and some of the responses that community organisations and various individuals have received from this Government indicate that it is not terribly interested in a true process of consultation. This is extremely rude and devalues the work done by the people in the Customer Commitment Unit. I think they should be congratulated for the amount of work they have done. They came and spoke to the Social Policy Committee about how many meetings they were having with different community groups. They have done a wonderful job to pull this together. But what they have to put up with is Government Ministers who are not interested in following this protocol. I think that is very unfortunate.
It is important that the community have the opportunity to have input into decisions that affect their lives. It is important that their needs are met and recognised by the Government before action is taken that affects the quality of life of those people. So, let us hope that we can see a consultation protocol that works in an open and fair manner, a consultation protocol that goes beyond just being a booklet. We want to see that it is put to use and that the work that is done by those people is recognised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MS TUCKER: Pursuant to standing order 246A, I wish to inform the Assembly that the Standing Committee on Social Policy agreed that the following statement on the committee's inquiry into the feasibility of the establishment of an early intervention centre modelled on the Stimulus Early Intervention Centre be made. On 12 November 1997 the Assembly asked the Social Policy Committee to conduct an inquiry into the feasibility of the establishment of an early intervention centre modelled on the Stimulus Early Intervention Centre. The committee was asked to do a feasibility study on the possible establishment of an early intervention centre in the ACT modelled on the Stimulus Early Intervention Centre located at South Windsor in New South Wales, and to table the study