Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (30 May) . . Page.. 1250..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
There is this issue about casual surveillance, Mr Speaker. The school is closed. It is entirely reasonable that the government simply makes sure that significant items in former school sites—whether they are inside or outside those sites—are properly protected until decisions can be made about how they can be used in the long term.
It is in everyone's interests that the plaque and memorial to John Flynn are maintained in the long term and are again on public display so that we can commemorate in an ongoing way the achievements of a significant Australian. It is not unreasonable to take steps, in the short term, to ensure that valuable items are protected from vandalism on what are currently vacant school sites. That is exactly what we have done. The hypocrisy from those opposite would have been even clearer if we had not taken steps to address this matter.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.19): I want to talk on a couple of items tonight in the time available. First, I want to revisit and remind members of a topic that is near and dear to you, Mr Speaker, and me, and that is industrial relations. In this climate where there is enormous debate about industrial relations at a federal level, we should not forget the fact that the ACT intervened in a High Court challenge brought by the states against the WorkChoices legislation in a matter that was heard between 4 and 11 May 2006. It is now a matter of public record that that action was unsuccessful.
The ruling served to underline that the territory was pursuing a wrong priority. Putting aside the merits of the WorkChoices legislation, it could be strongly argued, based on the High Court's ruling, that it should not have been contested in the first place. The ACT, under the self-government act, does not have the same powers as the states to set industrial relations law. Therefore, even if the states had been successful in their action, the federal government could have ensured that the WorkChoices legislation remained in operation within the ACT. The ACT's participation in the case was unnecessary, superfluous and clearly designed to grandstand on the issue of industrial relations rather than achieve any tangible gain for the people of Canberra.
And what was the cost? Mr Stanhope keeps asking where the Liberals will save money. Here is yet another example. We heard many cited earlier today. On 19 April, in reply to a question without notice, taken on notice, the Chief Minister and then Attorney-General stated that the anticipated final cost to the ACT was $95,000 and that, to that point, prior to the case having been heard, already $33,512.75 had been spent. Costs were awarded to the federal government, so the ACT may well have had to contribute a share of this amount. A High Court decision—
Mr Corbell: They have not pursued them.
MR MULCAHY: Mr Corbell, the Attorney-General, assures us that they have not had to contribute any more. But even if they have outlaid whatever that final figure was, it certainly was money that could be better employed in pursuing the needs of the ACT community.