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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3394 ..

MS McRAE (continuing):

The point is that we are elected as representatives of the people of Canberra and our responsibility is back to the people of Canberra, to share with them and to negotiate with them and to talk to them about issues that will change things substantially in the ACT. The fundamental responsibility of government is to ensure that, when decisions are made, these decisions are not only known about but also understood and supported. It is not enough to say that we are here to make decisions. What is much more fundamental is that these decisions are both in tune with and supported by the people of Canberra. This issue highlights the fact that the Government chose to act in a dictatorial manner. It chose to act in such a way as to say, "We know what is good for you. Too bad whether you like it or not. We are not going to tell you about it and you are just going to live with the consequences".

Within the rules of what was happening on the foreshore, that futsal park is perfectly in order. It is a recreational facility. The National Capital Authority was quite free to interpret it as a recreational facility. It was all done according to the rules, but the process omitted the inclusion of the people of Canberra. Mrs Carnell, in response to the debate this morning, pointed out that had the issue been discussed with anyone they would have opposed it. That is a very arrogant presumption on her part and shows very little faith in her own idea. If the idea is such a good one, if the idea is going to work, if the idea is something that is of benefit to the people of Canberra, why on earth be scared of what the people of Canberra have to say about it? That is what consultation is all about. It is bringing people in, informing them, letting them understand what the proposal is, and then being able to support it.

What we have seen thus far from this Government is a pattern of contempt, not only for the people of Canberra but for all of us, who are the representatives of the people of Canberra. Time and again we have seen the Government treat Assembly reports with indifference or with scepticism or with a minimum of effort. Assembly reports, in my opinion, represent very accurately and very thoroughly the views of the people of Canberra. They are usually put together after extensive community debate, and the members of the committee collectively represent the different viewpoints that are represented here. It is the height of audacity for the Government to ignore these reports and treat them with contempt, as we have seen.

We see a pattern, not only with public works and things that happen in the general community but also with the work we do collectively, of contempt being thrown at us from a government that repeatedly said that consultation was the core of its election strategy, the core of its way of dealing with the people of the ACT. Time and again I heard Mrs Carnell say before the last election that the views of all Assembly members were important, that ways should be found to include all of us in decisions that are made. Once that is put to the test, what happens? We are all called names, we are all denigrated, we are all treated with contempt, both individually and collectively. Our work on committees is treated with contempt. What adds up for the people of Canberra is that we have seven people who believe that they know what is best for everybody and everybody else just has to tag along. The judgment of that process will soon be upon us, and I can be quite confident that a lot more people will be very sceptical of any claims by the Liberal Government to be consultative, particularly if they continually pin their claim on their half-day once a month meeting with the general public.

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