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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 123 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I accept the comments made in the Kendrick report about those shortcomings. It is relatively easy for me to do that, because I was not the Minister at the time those issues arose and I am not now the Minister who is going to have to implement them. Nonetheless, the arguments are put forward. They have been accepted by the department, and I accept them as well. But, Mr Speaker, the reality is that we go one step further on occasions in this place - not just overviewing, asking questions and holding the Government to account for what has happened with a particular matter; but sometimes also attempting to impose solutions, solutions that one formulates from some distance from the issues.

I say that in this particular case because Mr Wood and Mr Quinlan have obviously taken the time to discuss this issue with a number of the parties - obviously, with some of the affected residents or their representatives and, Mr Quinlan indicated, with some people involved in community service bodies that involve themselves with these matters. In that respect, it is a matter of some regret to me that no-one from the Opposition took up the option made available to them about three weeks ago to be briefed on the Government's point of view on this matter as well.

That is unfortunate, because what has happened today is that Mr Wood has come into the place and said, "We believe - and we intend by way of a motion to impose it on the Government - that a particular solution to this matter should be found". I think that that is slightly unfortunate, and I would urge members opposite, if they believe that there is an issue of judgment to be made about such matters, to take the opportunity to hear what the Government's point of view is before they move a motion in this place imposing a particular solution in a particular matter. That is my recommendation. When the offer is available - and it is not always available to oppositions, as we knew when we were in opposition - it is a resource and an option that needs to be taken up.

Mr Speaker, I think it is particularly important to acknowledge that the matter is one which is delicate and which has been the subject of quite intense feelings on both sides of the fence. I would say without any hesitation that there has been some level of animus on each side of this debate towards the other. That is most unfortunate. I think that we need to find some way of taking that out of the debate if we possibly can. I hope that the opportunity of having a new Minister in the role will be part of that process. It is certainly a role that I hoped to be able to play by talking to the parties, including by meeting with Mr Maurer, representing the residents, the week before last.

It is important not to put ourselves in the position where we attempt to rush into a simplistic solution in order to deal with the problem that is given rise to by the long time between the completion of those residences and now. I say that because a lack of forethought, in a sense, has had unfortunate consequences in the case of the other COOOL house in Macquarie. To the best of my perception, the problem with this matter is that, in the case of Macquarie, the house was occupied by residents without support packages being negotiated and arrangements being settled for their long-term occupation there and care in that place. The result has been a quite significant blow-out in the cost of providing support to those residents. Indeed, it is of the order of a quarter of a million dollars.

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