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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 May 2007) . . Page.. 888 ..

I have no great difficulty with the government’s main bridge project. I question the amount of time it will take. I still have a major question, though, as to whether the existing bridge itself cannot actually be retained, refurbished and at least used for light traffic. I notice that Tharwa residents who have been talking to experts have a view that that option should not yet be closed off. But they are finding great difficulty getting answers out of the government as to whether that option can be re-explored. That is an issue that the opposition will be taking up.

In the meantime, poor old Tharwa is somewhat strangled. It is left to fend for itself in many respects. The closure of that school was an absolute disgrace and a crime as far as I am concerned, and now there is the problem with the bridge crossing. As well as the broader, more strategic issues around tourism and quicker access by ACT Emergency Service vehicles to the south, particularly at night with the current detour arrangements, the residents themselves really feel left out on a limb and neglected by this government. Time and again we have urged the government to go back to the commonwealth to see if they can get commonwealth assistance, perhaps military assistance, to do something about expediting a low-level crossing.

The advice I have is that if the work was done with local resources and manpower, including a lot of volunteer manpower and the provision of plant by people in the southern areas of the ACT, that low-level crossing could probably be built for somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000—the price of the Al Grassby statue, in effect. The opposition calls for this government to act, to do something to open up those avenues to Tharwa. Again, I identify misplaced priorities: statues versus essential services. I call on the ACT government to do something about this low-level bridge crossing option as an urgent service to help the people of the ACT.

Political exchange program

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (6.13): On Monday I returned from the United States where I had the opportunity to take part in a political exchange hosted by the American Council of Young Political Leaders and co-sponsored by the Australian Political Exchange Council. A political exchange program is an opportunity for young political leaders to learn about the political systems of other nations and to exchange views and make connections with leaders in those nations.

The delegation consisted of representatives of the Liberal Party, the Labor Party and the National Party and included a mix of elected representatives, party directors, ministerial advisers and one corporate representative, with delegates drawn from Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and the ACT.

While in the United States, I had the opportunity to meet with the US secretary for agriculture, various congressmen and women, the governor of the state of Washington, the mayor of Louisville, representatives from the Republican National Committee, Democratic fund raisers and members of the Democratic Party and senior representatives of the Australian Embassy. Prior to leaving, we also got to meet with, and had a briefing from, the US Ambassador to Australia.

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