Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 September 2011) . . Page.. 4021 ..
the question of the government really understanding that they are in government because of a decision of the Assembly. They are a minority government and minority governments need to be very careful. They get a little bit arrogant, they get a little bit complacent, they get a little bit out of touch and they spend a little too long in the ivory tower where they think that they just rule rather than govern.
It is unfortunate, because we have seen a shifting position. It is quite unclear what the government’s position now is on the $432 million great big office building. Initially it was: “Full steam ahead. We’ve done the work. We’re just going to build it.” Now, with a new minister in charge, it is: “Well, maybe we haven’t done enough work. Maybe we haven’t made a decision and maybe we are going to market test.”
The Greens have a view about reusing existing accommodation. That view is held by a number in the community. We have a different view in this place on expending this money as to what the appropriate use for that amount of money might be and in terms of priority. I think all of us agree that ACT public servants should be housed appropriately. In the market, given what the federal government can afford to provide, we need to be very careful that we do not fall behind simply in an accommodation sense.
But that does not justify the spending of this money in the way that this government has gone about it. Of course, we had the remarkable hearing in the estimates committee where there were more members than are actually in this place at the moment sitting at the committee table. There were more people than I have ever seen attend a committee hearing on the government side in the history of the Assembly. That is the level of concern. What we have had from the government by way of response is: “Go away. We’re just going to ignore you.”
We know that this is a shifting feast. It is uncertain what the government are doing. One could almost be suspicious that they are preparing to back away from this because they know they have got it wrong. We have seen different rhetoric from the former Chief Minister, this Chief Minister and the now Treasurer.
This 246A statement simply says that we as a committee will keep a watching brief. We will continue to monitor the outcomes of the government’s market testing processes. We look forward to the progress report on the government office block which is due by December 2011 this year as required by the Assembly motion. I do not think it is as clear cut as the government suggests. It is a very important issue. It will have a great effect not just on Civic but particularly the area around Dickson. It will have an impact on Gungahlin because there is a proposed building for Gungahlin. It means potentially other areas of the ACT do not get this sort of accommodation, and the question is: have they been considered?
This is an important matter. It is a matter that we will keep a watching brief on as a committee. It is certainly a matter the Canberra Liberals will keep a watching brief on. It is certainly something on which the government will have to continue to make their case, I hope, before the Assembly appropriates the $432 million that will be required to build this building.