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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 3886..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

equation is there for all to see, and it just does not meld. It is just not possible for any government in the ACT to continue to provide government services at the level and extent that we do with our revenue base.

It is a simple equation. The simple question is: where does the money come from to continue, year after year, to provide services at the level which we have traditionally provided them? It cannot be done. We must show the maturity, leadership and courage that are necessary to restructure systems such as our public education system and our public library system. They must be restructured. They must be clarified. They must be rejigged and they must be made more efficient. We have seen it in relation to education, a debate we have been having for the last six months, and the situation in relation to libraries is no different.

We simply do not have the luxury of providing suburban libraries or one suburban library. Of course it is a wrench for members of that particular library who have relied on that library. Of course it causes and creates grief for those people directly affected. We have one suburban library in the ACT. The people of Charnwood would love a library. The people of Kaleen would love a library. The people of Weston Creek would love a library.

Mr Hargreaves: The 30,000.

MR STANHOPE: The 30,000 residents of Weston Creek would love to have a library. The 30,000 residents of the Lanyon Valley would love to have a library. The people of Kaleen would love to have a library. The people of Charnwood would love to have a library. We have one suburban library.

In the space of three years, as part of a process of renewing public libraries and library services within the ACT, which have been in a significantly run-down and neglected state, we have invested $19 million in library infrastructure. In the last three years $19 million has been invested by this government in libraries. This government recognise, support and invest in public libraries because we know how important they are to the community and we are prepared to invest in them. We are prepared to invest in them to the tune of $19 million. We have invested, in the last three years, more in public libraries than had probably been invested in the previous 10 years. That is the level of investment in libraries by this government. That is the level of our support. We have invested $19 million in public libraries and we are concerned that we deliver library services equitably to all the people of the ACT.

As with every government, the primary obligation is to all residents of the territory, and we are seeking to meet that obligation by ensuring that we deliver library services equitably. That is what this minister is doing. That is the task which his cabinet set him and that is the task that he has pursued. The minister is doing what any good minister would do, no matter how difficult the task, no matter how unpalatable, no matter how politically damaging. He has, in the decision to close the Griffith library, implemented a difficult decision which I and his cabinet colleagues asked of him. For him to be censured for doing what is required of him by his cabinet or by the government which he serves really is a bit rich.

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