Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 3843..
MR MULCAHY (continuing):
The manner in which we have had to proceed on this is not something we take lightly, but I cannot sit back and see a sizeable number of my constituents disenfranchised, disregarded, treated in such a cavalier fashion on an issue about which they feel passionately and which they treat as a very serious issue in terms of their community and the neighbouring communities in which they live.
I am disappointed. I think it is almost without precedent, Mr Speaker, that a minister would leave the chamber when a motion of censure has been brought against him. In the time I have been in this Assembly, I have never, ever seen that occur and I find it extraordinary that the contempt for the community and, indeed, for this chamber is evident by the minister's abandonment of this chamber at such a critical time in debate.
The issues of concern to the people of Griffith are substantial. As I have indicated, the residents are suffering because of the mismanagement by the territory government of its budget. We have the increases in rates and other charges, the suffering of families through the closure of 39 schools that has been forecast, and now the situation that people of the inner south, many of whom are older folks, are going to suffer because the Griffith library will close.
It is worth considering who will suffer because of the closure of the library. It will be the young primary school students from the local area including Red Hill and Narrabundah primary schools, the elderly and other disadvantaged sections of our society. Recently I received communication from an 82-year-old pensioner, a veteran of World War II who wrote to me. His daily activity is to walk to the Griffith library, read the newspapers, books and magazines. He is not able to travel by bus alone and does not drive. I am sure that his is not a unique situation.
Other constituents who have contacted me have raised this same issue either on their own behalf or for family members and friends. And I do not have a problem with the fact that people who might live out of the area are concerned. Do I take no interest in my mother who had an injury a few days ago and who is in hospital in Hobart? If I call, does the hospital say, "Well, it is not your problem; you do not live in Hobart"?
It is a similar situation for someone living in Theodore when their parents, who live in Griffith, are in trouble. Do we deny them the right to put a view, to express their concern? Of course we do not. Do we sit here saying, "Well, they cannot vote in my electorate; so I do not care. I do not give a hoot about their concerns"? It is a disgraceful way in which to treat representations from the community.
I receive hundreds of representations on a raft of issue every few weeks. Some of them I disagree with. Some of them I agree with, but I consider it my duty, and I have since I was first involved in doing political work, that if you receive representations from constituents, you should treat them with the maximum possible courtesy and advance those concerns to the appropriate minister. I do not think it helps the minister's reputation in handling this to just dismiss and trash letters that have come from people—from whatever area—who, for whatever reason, have taken an interest in the plight of those who patronise the Griffith library.