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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 985..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

it was killed; out in the car park, he virtually danced, metaphorically, on its grave. Yesterday we had Mr Stanhope saying that it will be built; today he came in here and spent 10 minutes of question time on a lengthy and ornate justification for the feasibility money spent on the busway. He claimed that the actions were merely those of a responsible government to ensure that the road reserve was there for perpetuity. He likened it to setting aside the road reserve for John Dedman, now Gungahlin Drive.

If that is the case, I want to know a number of things. Perhaps the current planning minister or transport planning minister, the Chief Minister or the previous transport planning minister can answer these questions. When will we see the government put aside the rest of the road reserves that were set out and suggested by the KBR report that was part of the sustainable transport study? When will we see a setting aside of road reserves for a busway or light rail network that may one day be built from Gungahlin to Civic-and from Civic via Russell perhaps to the airport; from Woden to Civic; from Tuggeranong to Woden? If that is what the Chief Minister thinks they were doing, he has done a very small proportion of the job.

If we were actually in the business of putting aside road reserves, there would not have been any quibbling from this side of the house. But what we saw was a massive waste of money that included design work for the bus stops along the way and advertising and marketing for the concept. It was not consultation. The contracts for the feasibility study, in addition to consultation, specifically talked about advertising and marketing of the concept. It was roughly a $4 million waste of money. Setting aside money for a road reserve would not cost this territory $4 million, given the sort of work that they have done. It could have been done for less than that. For $4 million I would expect to see all the road reserves set aside for perpetuity. That would have been a good thing.

Asylum seekers-mutual assistance arrangement

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.12): Today I would like to speak about a new policy direction of the Howard government that I find absolutely appalling but that I have not had the opportunity to air my concerns about in the Assembly until today. I refer to the mutual assistance arrangement Australia signed with the US to resettle refugees who arrive by boat. The way this insidious policy will work is that asylum seekers processed on Nauru that are found to be genuine refugees-that is, have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion-will be resettled in the US while refugees intercepted by the US and taken to Guantanamo Bay will be resettled in Australia.

The deal has been described as strange, bizarre, illogical, murky and dark. However, I believe that this policy is well thought out in order to achieve the desired outcome by the agreed countries. I believe that, far from being ad hoc, this policy-which has been in the pipeline since 2002, when Ruddock dismissed the agreement as merely unfounded rumour-is calculated and follows a logic which prioritises an aggressive border protection policy over any protection considerations accorded to asylum seekers and refugees.


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