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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 203..


MR CORNWELL (continuing):

failure rate, which is an absolute disgrace. Why did the minister not stand aside, as did the chief executive and deputy chief executive, given the serious failures over which she has ultimately presided and which she has ignored for months?

MS GALLAGHER: I have hardly ignored these issues. This information came to my attention last Friday. I have given that information to everyone, I am talking about it and I am putting in place measures to fix the problems. I cannot understand why the member is stating that I am ignoring issues that have been presented to me. These issues, which go back a number of years, are currently under inquiry and review. I do not want to go into specifics about my views on this issue when I have not yet had an opportunity to interview the commissioner. I am waiting to interview the commissioner in relation to her inquiry. As I said earlier, I have hardly ignored these issues.

MR CORNWELL: I ask a supplementary question. Why does the minister not accept that it is unacceptable for a department that is dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in the community not to follow the law more than half the time? Why does the Minister not accept that the blame and responsibility stop with her?

MS GALLAGHER: I have said on a number of occasions that this issue is unacceptable. Ever since this information came to light I have said that it is unacceptable. The government is attempting to fix this problem. In 1996 the Community Advocate first requested that allegations of abuse in care be forwarded to her office. It is unacceptable that this problem has continued for a period of eight years. Now that this issue is on the table the government is dealing with it-for the first time in eight years. I have accepted some of the blame for this problem. I have also accepted responsibility for it. If members read the articles in the Canberra Times, the media reports last night and my ministerial statement they will soon establish that I have done all the things that I have just been asked to do.

Trees in Nettlefold Street, Belconnen

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Last year the Assembly instructed the Minister for Planning to negotiate a land swap for the Nettlefold Street trees site. I understand that you, as Minister for Environment, informed at least two Canberra residents in November of last year that you would personally look into the matter. Did you personally look into the matter of the Nettlefold Street trees, and if you did, can you inform the Assembly how the matter is proceeding?

MR STANHOPE: This is another vexed and difficult issue which arises, of course, out of a decision by the previous government to sell the land at Nettlefold Street on which there are some very significant remnant yellow box trees. But the land was sold, the decision was made and a significant corporate citizen acquired the block in a bona fide and genuine way. There have been moves, of course, to seek to alter that particular position.

I am very closely involved in the matter. I have had a number of representations from members of the Belconnen community. We, of course, have had the motion that you referred to. I have had discussions with all of my colleagues in relation to this issue. I have had discussions with Mr Corbell in the context of the motion the Assembly passed that sought us to pursue with the owners of the land the possibility of a land swap. I have


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