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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 3887..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

We could go around censuring any minister charged with responsibility for the implementation of any unpopular government decision. It is a government decision. It is a decision of mine, it is a decision of my cabinet colleagues and it is a decision of my colleagues within the government. It is a decision of all of us, and the minister has been asked to implement it. To seek to censure him really is just a stunt. It is just a stunt. It is a stunt designed to create some political capital. It is a stunt designed to damage or injure a minister implementing a difficult decision and, in that context, a decision and a role that requires very significant political courage. There is nobody here that would deny that.

It is not easy to implement difficult decisions. It is not easy to look a disgruntled and distressed community in the eye and to tell them that you have taken a difficult and hard decision. But when you believe, as I believe, and as I know the minister believes, that the decision is right and appropriate, no matter that it is unpalatable, no matter that it is unpopular, no matter that it will cause the minister personally as well as the government significant political damage, it is a sign of good government, a sign of a courageous government.

At the end of the day, I and my colleagues do have faith in the people of Canberra, do invest in them our trust that they expect to have a government that is prepared to take the hard decisions, a government that will not wobble at the first sign of some expression of concern around the hard decisions that need to be made to ensure a better future for all of us and an equitable distribution of community funds. It really is just populist politics to say, "We are concerned about good economic management; we will reopen schools that are closed and we will reopen libraries that are closed. We will not impose the water abstraction charge. We will not impose the fire levy."You go through the list now. We are up to $150 million of costs that will not be imposed or collected by this government and you claim to be economic managers. What a joke!

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.29), in reply: Mr Speaker, I listened very carefully to the words of the Chief Minister. It was interesting that he really sidestepped the motion before the Assembly and attempted to debate the appropriateness or otherwise of the decision to close the library. The motion before us is a motion to censure the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services "for his handling of the closure of the Griffith library". We are not debating the economic appropriateness of the library or whether that was a valid argument to close the library. This motion is about the way the minister handled the process, and it was the way he handled this process, capped this morning by his conduct, that took me to the view that I should initiate this motion.

It has become painfully apparent through these debates how this government is approaching its responsibility to the people of Canberra. Quite simply, it makes community-altering decisions with precious little regard for the communities that are affected and believes that its majority gives it carte blanche to do what it pleases, whether it is closing 39 schools or arbitrarily deciding that Griffith library has outlived its usefulness. This decision is wrong and the multitude of constituent complaints to my office, to other opposition MLAs and to the minister's own office are proof of this. I just wonder how this government can repeatedly fail to listen to constituents who, in fact, elect them to this place.


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