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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 June 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2340 ..


management of that approach rather than leasing premises, given the requirement of government agencies to have A-grade buildings.

We also had discussion on the Human Rights Commission through that process—and the Community Inclusion Board, which of course he strenuously defends. The Bill of Rights does not protect rights; nor can the courts alone adequately protect them. The protection of rights lies in good sense, tolerance and fairness of the community. If we have this, then rights will be respected by individuals and governments. This is expected behaviour and breaches will be considered unacceptable.

“A bill of rights has the potential to turn community values into legal battlefields.” Those words are essentially not mine; they were published in the Canberra Times on 20 August 2001 and were authored not by the then Liberal leader but by Mr Bob Carr, Labor Premier of New South Wales in an opinion editorial in the Canberra Times. In the piece quoted, Bob Carr talks about how a bill of rights transfers decisions on major policy issues from the legislature to the judiciary, and how decisions made by the judiciary in the adversarial setting of courts leads to piecemeal responses made without reference to the big picture required by good public policy-making.

The brutal reality is that this government, led by Mr Stanhope, is great for talking but, in fact, is not great in its performance. The most glaring example came out in our questioning in relation to the Quamby centre, of which we will hear more later. It was a good illustration of the theoretical approach to human rights but in fact not a practical one, as he tried to dismiss all of that as something of a problem of the former government.

During the course of these discussions we also dealt with the arboretum, the latest idea from our Chief Minister. I am not sure what it is about some leaders around this country in the state jurisdictions but monument building seems to be very much part of it. Ms Gallagher is running a conversation across there but we will get on to IR in a minute—have no fear. We will talk about the brilliant negotiating strategies that have been employed in that area on behalf of the taxpayer.

In the first instance I would like to look at the arboretum. I am fascinated to know where this one is going to go. On the way into the Assembly one day I listened to an interview with the Chief Minister. I think he was in Japan—in Nara. I do not know whether he had had a late night or had jetlag, but he was suddenly basically admitting that the $12 million figure is really pretty rubbery and that we are now talking about $20 million. He was probably suddenly remembering, or had been told by Mr Quinlan, about the ACIL preliminary assessment of expenditure and revenue for the proposed arboretum.

This is another example of the government’s ambitions exceeding its capacity. The arboretum is to cover 250 hectares. It is very large; it is more than six times larger than the developed area of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, yet the botanic gardens had a total operations budget in 2003-04 of $8.3 million. That is over 10 times greater than the operating expenses allowed for the arboretum in 2008-09.

Then we look at the US national arboretum, which is equivalent to about 70 per cent of the size of the proposed ACT arboretum. Its budget in the fiscal year 2004 was $12.38 million, or A$16.3 million at the prevailing exchange rate. This is a long way


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