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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 36 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, there is often a tendency for governments to concentrate on macro issues, and in many cases rightly so, too. It is correct to consider the problems associated with macro-economic reform and big ticket items like airports and trains; perennial issues like employment, health and education. However, we should not lose sight of issues such as reconciliation. We also need to be aware of local concerns. I have found that people are just as concerned about the state of their local parks, whether the footpaths near their homes will ever be completed, the cost of a litre of milk, bus fares and whether the buses will run in their suburbs. They are also concerned about whether the local shop will have to close because of competition from larger centres, and whether the price of petrol is going to rise on payday or just before school holidays.

Mr Speaker, these are just some of the day-to-day issues confronting people today, and most of them are within our power to address. But do we? I do not know that we do it well enough. In recent times the uncompromising approach to governing espoused by both Liberal governments in this town has put a new meaning on the term "economic rationalism". They have taken the philosophy to new heights. The term "economic rationalism" has become the buzzword of the nineties. We need less emphasis on dry economic policies, privatisation and profits for a minority of the community.

We need to develop new buzzwords - ones which show that we mean to tap into people's basic needs and show that we mean to look after their interests; not only those of big business, interstate interests, personal ego trips for politicians, and a constant search for theoretical financial purity. These new buzzwords ought to be "service for the people", with the accent on "people". Let us see an end to selling off the public tupperware just because the silverware has already been sold. Public assets returning revenue to the people of the ACT pay for those essential welfare systems on which the less well-off depend. If the revenue-making entities are doing well, we do not have to suffer significant price rises. For example, if we abolish the Milk Authority the inevitable increased price of milk to the elderly and young families will become an unfair burden on those that cannot afford it.

Mr Speaker, I am grateful to the people of Brindabella for giving me the opportunity to represent them in this Assembly. It is an honour which I treasure and one which provides me with the greatest challenge of my life. The expectation of so many people is a daunting responsibility. I believe that to be truly representative we need to get back to the people, to reconnect. The people in Canberra do not always see this Assembly in a good light. Is this because we have not really connected with them? Perhaps this is a personal challenge for all of us.

MR SPEAKER: On behalf of all other members of the Assembly, I would like to thank the five new members for their considered, thoughtful and indeed sincere contributions to the debate in their inaugural speeches.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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