Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3092 ..
Ms McRae: You ignored them.
MRS CARNELL: No, we did not ignore them. We determined not to sell the Kippax Health Centre, because we got a lot of community input saying that they did not want that to happen. I would be extremely interested, and I am sure everybody on this side of the house would be, to know a lot of things that more than 50 per cent of the community actually believe.
Ms Follett: Go out and ask them.
MRS CARNELL: We do. We give people the opportunity to meet the Ministers and all the rest of it - things that were never done by the previous Government. It offends me to hear comments made about the American system and about proposition 13 and how that ruined the Californian situation. Proposition 13, as we know, was passed by the people who turned out in that particular CIR. Why did they vote the way they did? They voted the way they did because the government of the day had amassed a $5 billion surplus, refused to tell the community what they would spend it on and continued to put up taxes. Quite seriously, I think the people of California had every right to say, "Excuse me. You have five billion bucks in the bank, you are putting up taxes and you are not telling us what you are spending the money on". I think that is a very fair approach.
The comment was made that the media could determine how the people in the ACT voted. That flies totally in the face of a number of government-initiated referendum proposals that have not got up. We have had in Australia referendums that both major parties have supported and they have still lost. That has happened on a number of occasions. Every major media outlet has supported them, and they have still not got up because the people have not gone along with what the major parties and the media outlets have thought. Why? Because they are quite capable of making decisions themselves. It certainly shows, too, that people basically will opt for the status quo unless they can be really convinced that to make a change is an appropriate thing to do. I do not believe that that is necessarily a bad thing, but that has certainly been the approach Australians have taken to referendums in the past. It shows the difference between compulsory voting in referendums and non-compulsory voting as in New Zealand. The New Zealand situation is totally different from the proposal we are putting here. The number of signatures required there is substantially higher. There has been no effort in New Zealand to make them binding. There are no entrenchment provisions there such as those that Mr Humphries tabled today in this place. For this Assembly to state, after voting against this Bill today, that they support community consultation - quite seriously, we know that they do not - would be hypocritical.
More than 50 per cent of the community must support a proposal, and safeguards have been built into the legislation. It provides for a long timeframe between a petition and the actual referendum. This will stop the situation that could arise following a particularly brutal murder, when people would be all very emotional. I agree with that. We have accepted the concerns expressed about those sorts of things. Yet we have seen the Greens and other people in this place getting a taste of power and not being willing to give up one little bit of it.