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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . .

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When we went out to the community we went out with a series of draft maps and it would be fair to say we got some strong reactions to proposed changes at some locations. But we were able to talk to the community about their concerns and accommodate that feedback. That is the bit that is important. Consultation is about being genuinely open and being willing to hear what people have to say. As a result of that, the people of Belconnen continue to walk their dogs at Mount Rogers as before. In this case, the end result was good for the community and it was a successful consultation, even though the proposal was actually reversed from what was originally put forward. The community spoke and the government listened.

The Greens have always advocated for genuine consultative processes. We believe consultation needs to be designed in a way that facilitates constructive feedback, and government needs to be prepared to be flexible in response. Certainly, I have found in my time as a minister in a range of complex areas often just getting people in the room and sitting down, having the consultation and bringing different stakeholders together to share perspectives, is very valuable.

Members may recall that we have had a significant increase in our prison population. As the Minister for Corrections I brought in a range of community stakeholders to talk about why that was happening and discuss possible solutions. That work is now informing very strongly the justice reform agenda the Attorney-General and I are working on to try to tackle that issue of the increasing prison population.

Ms Lawder is not here at the moment, but she will recall that when we were looking at the Nature Conservation Act last year we had a roundtable where the Labor Party, the Greens and the Liberal Party were all present, as well as community stakeholders. Again, by the time that legislation came before this chamber, through that process there were barely any amendments, and the ones that were there were the areas that were most heavily contested, while everything else had been sorted out in the meantime.

I put forward those examples today to indicate that I think consultation can be very successful. It needs to be flexible in how it is done, when it is done and the way the government goes to the community. I welcome this discussion today and the chance to reflect on what works well and the positive outcomes it can produce.

MRS JONES (Molonglo) (4.11): I am pleased to add my voice to this matter of public importance regarding public consultation. The lack of public consultation on some key decisions is damaging not only to local suburbs but also to vulnerable groups. In the case of the recent debacle regarding the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, I cannot see the result of any visible public consultation.

This group has already suffered very significant discrimination and stress in its history in the Middle East. It was put in an unenviable position when it was announced that it had been offered a site in Rivett, barely 200 or 300 square metres, with no capacity for private parking, in order to build a mosque. This is a peace-loving and kindly sect of Muslims who were left believing that this was the only piece of land in the whole of Canberra that was available for them to purchase for their growing needs.


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