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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 215..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

Help us to fix this problem, because we are in strife!"They are in strife. The members for Brindabella are very unpopular in their electorate at the moment and they are going to have to do an awful lot to claw back to popularity.

After the close of business on Friday, the Minister for Planning came out with the announcement that everything is going to be all right; that the government is going to withdraw the whole thing and restart the process; that it will be as it should have been before. Everyone said, "Phew, we have won!"But the sting is in the tail when you see that, at the end of all this, Mr Corbell says he is going to signal his intention to exercise his call-in powers. That means that he will listen very politely and then go off and do precisely what he wants.

The Minister for Planning has been getting away with that for the past two years, but this is where we draw the line in the sand. This is where we tell the Minister for Planning that he cannot get away with irresponsible and unjustifiable exercises of power. The levers of power are in his hands and, with the support of the crossbenchers today, we can constrain this minister, who has been out of control in this case.

It has been proposed in Mr Smyth's motion-which in some ways reflects what Mrs Cross has done but I think Mr Smyth's motion goes further-that this situation be brought to a halt; that it be made perfectly clear that this is a process that should be dealt with by the independent planning authority and not by the Minister for Planning, who has a considerable conflict of interest in this because he wears two hats. As this is a planning matter and is about the appropriateness and the scale of planning in a residential setting, this decision should be made by somebody who does not have a conflict of interest.

We understand that the minister wants to provide more drug and alcohol beds, and we sympathise with that. We understand the importance of that, but his need in that regard should not overshadow his responsibilities on this issue. His responsibilities as the Minister for Planning are just as great as they are as the Minister for Health. This motion today is to ensure that this minister does not have the opportunity to blur the distinctions.

MS TUCKER (3.43): There is no doubt that this Assembly supports the commitment by the government to increase rehabilitation support for people dealing with drug and alcohol dependency. It has been recognised across the board that there is a shortage of rehabilitation support in our community. It is interesting and disturbing to note, however, that some people in the community have a dual vision of people who are rebuilding their lives through rehabilitation programs such as those run by Karralika and socially disruptive people with criminal behaviours. This is clearly not an accurate representation.

The minister has addressed the issue in more detail, but family focus programs of rehabilitation in a therapeutic community setting such as Karralika are probably as far as you can get from the kinds of dangerous and erratic activities that people in neighbouring suburbs are suggesting. The family program is unusual and perhaps unique in Australia. It provides a supportive but strongly structured environment where parents-mostly mothers-can start to put their lives together, free from drug dependence and addiction, without risking the loss of, or disruption or damage to, their families.


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