Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 2329..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
to rest. The government is going through a considered, rigorous, scientific evaluation of the potential for the construction of a dragway.
I am committed to this project. I now see the dragway held up almost as a point of extravagant expenditure. I overheard that comment this morning in the representations being made by the Australian Education Union in relation to its pay claim-on what basis can the government afford something as frivolous as a dragway but will not fund, without productivity savings, a four per cent pay rise for teachers? There is a whole range of issues around why people pick on a major and significant piece of infrastructure for a significant group of Canberrans. There really is an element of significant middle-class snobbery in this looking down the nose at a dragway.
I do not receive the same sorts of comments about suggestions by the ACT government to spend money on the Canberra Theatre instead of on teachers. I do not hear this same group of white-collar, middle-class professionals say why are you spending money on a glassworks and not on teachers' salaries? When I hear a group of white-collar, middle-class professionals-and I see it in relation to the dragway from the AEU and the P&C council; white-collar professionals-say that we should just dispense with this facility for those that they do not associate with but, perhaps, who are, with great respect to them, broadly representative of blue-collar, more working-class representatives or members of our community, I find it offensive. "Let us dispense with their facility. Let us look down our noses at their recreation. Let us not as a community be inclusive and embrace the recreational pursuit and interest of one class of Canberra citizen". I do find it offensive.
The issue in relation to the dragway and its future should be considered on its merits and dealt with on its merits. This notion that there is a hierarchy of government support for infrastructure that is determined by one's social status, and certain groups within society think that their pursuit or interest is worthy of government support, needs to be treated with caution. I see in the constant scorn being poured on the dragway a very distinct element of superiority and snobbery, and I find it offensive. The dragway will succeed or fail on its merits, on the basis of whether or not the rigorous environmental assessment allows it to proceed, and whether or not it can be done within the funding boundaries determined by the government. This is an $8 million project. They are the parameters. It must be built at the price and it must satisfy the Environment Protection Authority in the context of its report and its recommendations to government.
DR FOSKEY: My question, which is to the Chief Minister, is in regard to his recent announcement of a cross-government steering group to advise the government on initiatives to increase the supply of affordable housing in the ACT. Members of the Assembly would be aware that the ACT government chose not to develop an implementation plan in response to the recommendations it accepted of the 2002 Affordable Housing Taskforce. Clearly, this has been a matter of some frustration to those concerned with increasing the supply of affordable housing. Does the Chief Minister intend to produce an implementation plan, with specific targets and time lines for agencies, for initiatives proposed by the steering group? If not, how will the government and the ACT community be assured of concrete outcomes?