Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3579..
MR PRATT (continuing):
Those are fine sentiments. If that was the appropriate action to take, I would be the first person to support the minister. But the facts are these, Mr Speaker. The Tharwa community had three meetings between August and October 2006, the first two being progress report meetings by the minister. At least, for the first time, we see the minister now consulting with the community. They point out that the minister said, "The bridge has reached the point—it has deteriorated to such a point—that the bridge is going to fall down; therefore there is no option but to build a concrete bridge."The Tharwa community maintain that he also said, as one of the options presented to them, that they would be building a dual-lane concrete bridge.
The Tharwa community is saying that, contrary to the advice that was presented to them by the minister, (a) they now have strong contradicting evidence which indicates that the bridge will not fall down; (b) they have strong engineering evidential advice that, for a lot less than it would cost to build a concrete bridge, the old bridge can be restored to at least light traffic load; and (c) in any case, they are getting a single-lane bridge, not a double-lane bridge. So the community is very concerned with the response the minister gave in this house last week in response to this vexed question about that bridge.
Again, we implore the government to take a serious look at all the evidence available now. As to whether that evidence was not available two years ago, that is an interesting point. If that was the case—if the minister and the government can prove that two years ago they simply did not have that sort of engineering advice available to them—the opposition might be somewhat more sympathetic. But the point is that it looks as though, in the haste to spend money on an unnecessary project, we have the Tharwa community still choked by poor government management.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.31): Over the past six years, the ACT government has shown great initiative in policy direction, particularly with our health and transport facilities and also in our climate change strategy. I applaud the direction that the federal opposition has taken with its policies that directly focus on Australia and Canberra's future.
Last week I had the privilege of attending an address by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. In his address Mr Hawke discussed the importance of the union movement in Australia. Mr Hawke described the presence that the unions provide as a means of fleshing out the Australian idea of a fair go. In this country we are blessed to receive support for all employees through the balance that unions provide. Mr Hawke described the union movement as essential to fair practice and safe working conditions, to which we should all be entitled. Mr Hawke is one of the greatest Prime Ministers that Australia has ever seen and is more than qualified to discuss the issue. Mr Hawke is very supportive of Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd—as I am.
Mr Hawke realises that, as this government realises, there is a struggle for working families. They will have to endure that struggle if the Howard government is re-