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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 18 November 2010) . . Page.. 5702 ..


I know that I have made this point on a number of occasions; it is my experience that with major legislation you end up with less debate, less contention and fewer amendments if you actually sit down and work your way through it. There have been occasions, for instance when Mr Corbell was the minister for planning and the first tranche of planning reforms came in, when there were a number of roundtable discussions in this place—in this building, not in this chamber—about how to carry forward things.

It turned out that crossbench and opposition members were making a range of suggestions that the government could work with and we went away and resolved issues. So the government moved a whole lot of amendments. Then there were the issues that we could not agree on and they were dealt with by the parties. That meant that there was a higher level of preparedness, a higher level of specificity and fixing up of issues as we went along, and very little misunderstanding.

There have been other occasions—the one that I had most to do with was the passage of the current Environment Protection Act—where every regulation, every code of practice, everything, was on the table. The whole matter was inquired into by the Assembly, after there had been two years of public consultation on the issue, and in fact all the amendments were done well beforehand. I think there were, in fact, no amendments on the day that the bill was passed because everything had been agreed to, and the bill passed unanimously. Although members of the Assembly had come from quite different views about this, it was all finally resolved. That is an example of how you actually get good policy.

I think the problem with this debate is that the minister has held all of the cards too close to his chest for too long and the community have not been adequately consulted on this. That the regulations came out less than six weeks before the implementation is inappropriate. We have a lot to learn from what went wrong here—and what will continue to go wrong with this legislation, because I suspect we will be back here amending it time and again. And I think the fault for that will lie with the minister, who has not been open, who has not consulted and who has not worked with the community and the members of this place to come up with a better piece of legislation. When there is general agreement on the premise, we should not have had to have a range of acrimonious debates here because the minister did not want to share.

I thank members for their support. It is important to note again that it is the Canberra Liberals who are doing the hard work to fix up the mess and that we have worked very hard with the community and taken into account their concerns. There are issues here that I notice that I am not going to get support for. The issue in relation to the extra water stations is a matter of particular concern and I would encourage the minister to look at the regulations, and I will continue to look at the regulations, because the principal concern that I have about that is that those stand-alone drink stations which will not be supervised will become drink-spiking central.

We need to look at issues about making sure that those water stations are tamper-proof and that people cannot use them as opportunities for drink spiking in particular. That is the biggest safety issue I have and I think it has not been addressed


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