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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 May 1993) . . Page.. 1599 ..


Community Consultation

MRS CARNELL: My question is addressed to the Chief Minister. In the lead-up to the last ACT election, on 22 January 1992 the ALP announced a policy for consultation with the ACT community entitled "Listening to the Community". In the light of the existence of that policy, I ask the Chief Minister why the Government failed to consult the ACT community in almost all the decisions which have been taken and which have direct implications on many Canberrans.

MS FOLLETT: Madam Speaker, Mrs Carnell's question is extremely broad and the thrust of it is untrue. It is a fact and a matter of some pride with this Government that we do indeed consult the community and do so on a regular basis. I would point Mrs Carnell towards, for example, the householder surveys which have just been undertaken. The value of those surveys, Madam Speaker, is indicated by the fact that over one-third of Canberra households have actually returned their survey form. Over 34,000 Canberra households have taken the opportunity to let the Government know of their views on the services that are provided to them, and those views will be taken very seriously.

I would also point Mrs Carnell to the budget process. I have consistently consulted on budget matters and have consistently taken notice of, and acted upon, the responses that we get to that consultation process. Madam Speaker, there are other areas where consultation is in fact a trademark. I would point to the work that my colleague the Minister for Land and Planning undertakes in consulting with the community on planning matters. That is an extremely rigorous process, one in which the Assembly has had a hand over the years. I believe that that process has made for a better result for the community. It is certainly one which this Government takes very seriously. So I would completely deny the allegation that is inherent in Mrs Carnell's question.

MRS CARNELL: I ask a supplementary question. If the Chief Minister has consulted with the Canberra community, why was it then necessary for the issuing of a paper entitled "Establishment of Community Consultative Structures in the ACT" dated May 1993 a year and a half after your pre-election promise?

MS FOLLETT: Madam Speaker, had Mrs Carnell any understanding whatsoever of what consultation means and what it means to take it seriously rather than just mouth slogans, she would have appreciated that this Government has a commitment towards establishing, where it is necessary and where it is possible to do so, some mechanisms to facilitate consultation with the community. Work towards that end has been going on for some time, and it has involved - as you might expect - a large amount of consultation. So, Madam Speaker, I believe that in attempting to sort out those mechanisms we are taking an appropriate further step in ensuring that the views of the community that we serve are heard.

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