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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1275 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The leasehold system is valued in the ACT precisely because it allows government to make long-term land use decisions in the best long-term interest of the community, not a particular developer.

The arguments we have heard today from government have been even more concerning because basically what we have been hearing is that the Government had no knowledge of what actually had been said to us in the Estimates Committee and other forums when talking to and asking questions of officials. What has happened to ministerial responsibility? Where does the buck stop? I am absolutely shocked to hear the Government put the argument that because they did not know they therefore should not be censured. The point is that the community and this Assembly have been told by government consistently that good, due process was met. I believe it has not been met at all. I believe that significant amounts of ratepayers' money have been spent in a process that has been, to say the least, inconsistent and ad hoc. We are seeing a diminishing of ministerial responsibility being taken in this parliament and other parliaments, particularly with outsourcing and corporatisation, and I believe that this is an issue of very serious concern for members of this place and for the broader community. It is not good enough. We have to see Ministers accept responsibility if they, in fact, have not been across a subject totally because if we do not have that the buck will not stop anywhere. We will not have accountability and we will be able to see continuing diminution and loss of effectiveness of government services.

I believe, after listening to the debate today, that in fact the Government has misled us not only in its attempt to convince us that they know what they are doing in planning, but also in terms of the information they have given us, or their officials have and which is therefore their responsibility, about the status of the leases and blocks.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (4.44): Mr Speaker, a censure motion should be a very serious matter and it should be about very serious subjects. I must say that I, and I think those on this side of the house, take this motion quite seriously. That is why I am somewhat surprised at the matter that is currently before the Assembly and what the debate has descended to. Just what are we arguing about? Is a lease a block?

Mr Stanhope: The truth.

MR SMYTH: Well, the truth is interesting. Is a lease a block? Is a block a house? Is a lease on a property, on a farm, on a block? They are interchangeable words that we all use to describe where we live. What does the Macquarie Dictionary say, Mr Speaker? It says this about "block":

... a section of land, frequently suburban, as for building a house ... a portion of a city, town, etc., enclosed by ... neighbouring and intersecting streets.

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