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There was an election recently in New South Wales and a new government was formed and so on. But this is really about people taking ministerial responsibility for these things. The community deserves better than having somebody stand up and say to them, “We will do something”, and then not do it. After all, they pay the freight, they pay the wages. When there is a flock of Ministers sitting around doing not much, I am sure that they would expect that these sorts of simple tasks would be addressed with great gusto, because they would have had lots of energy left over to deal with these important issues.
I will leave the matter there, Mr Speaker; but I think we deserve at least an explanation for why nothing occurred, as far as public reports are concerned, up until the time of the second blanket which descended upon the Territory. Mr Humphries might explain why he was so busy that he was unable to do anything.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (10.55): Dear, oh dear, oh dear! Mr Speaker, we had a debate last week about people coming and seeing what happens in the Assembly. I am awfully glad that there were not too many people in the gallery. I see that there is a school group in the gallery. I hope that they do not judge the standard of politicians or politics in the ACT purely by what they have just seen from Mr Berry. It is extremely sad that we have to go through such a tawdry and unproductive waste of, presumably, an hour or so's debate on this matter.
Mr Berry: Why did you not do something?
MR HUMPHRIES: I did, Mr Berry; and if you wait patiently you will hear all about it. Mr Speaker, this really is an absolute and utter waste of the Assembly's time, and Mr Berry should be ashamed. I know that they do not have much business to do on that side of the chamber. I know that there are not too many things that they can say, just having come into opposition. But to try to make a mountain out of this molehill really is an embarrassment.
Mr Speaker, I ask the Assembly to reject this motion. It is the silliest motion I have seen so far in this term of the Assembly and, I suspect, if this is the standard that we are going to be seeing from the Opposition, it will not be the silliest for the entire period of the Assembly. Mr Berry called it a hard-hitting motion. With respect, it is not. It is a very mildly worded motion. Mr Berry does not even have confidence in his own theme. Mr Berry is used to moving motions censuring people and lacking confidence in people. To say that the Assembly “regrets the failure of the Minister” indicates that he himself does not have much confidence in the message that he is trying to put across.
Mr Speaker, let me just explain some of the background to this matter. I think it is worth emphasising that there is very much a need for us to act in this area. To the point where he touched on the nature of the problem in New South Wales, I think Mr Berry was speaking accurately. It is true that the issue has become slightly more acute in recent years, particularly since the summer before last, when, as members will well recall, there were very serious fires in New South Wales, particularly around Sydney, that devastated significant areas of New South Wales and, indeed, took lives. As a result of those fires in particular, in New South Wales there has been a change of emphasis about the way