Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 491 ..
embarrassment for the Government and we need to retrieve some ground on it by proving that rural residential is really a great idea; that the basic plans that the Government had in relation to Hall/Kinlyside were sound and should go ahead. The Government said, "We will pay another $22,000 to show that all along we were right in that inherently flawed process. We are trying to cover up the damage that we did to ourselves".
This is a black-and-white case, as Mr Corbell has said. This is a case in which a Minister has come into this place and led the members of this Assembly, and through this Assembly the people of this community, to believe that we were engaged in an independent, arm's length, objective assessment of rural residential development. We were not. We were not involved in an independent, arm's length, objective assessment of rural residential development.
Ms Carnell: That is not what it was meant to be.
MR STANHOPE: That is what the Minister told us we were involved in, and it is not what we were involved in. We were involved in the payment of significant moneys to a consultant to prepare a document which was so massaged and amended by the Minister's officers that the consultant himself went on the record to claim, in effect, that he could no longer claim ownership of this document because it no longer reflected his views; it was simply an advocacy of the Government's position.
Those people in the community who have been duped into responding to this independent discussion paper have been grievously misled. They have been asked to respond to a paper which simply reflects this Government's peculiar view of rural residential development, a view which arose out of the fact that it was so embarrassed over the appalling mistakes, mismanagement and maladministration surrounding the Hall/Kinlyside proposal. That is what this is all about.
This Minister has simply found himself incapable of rising above that appalling background to start afresh, to start with a clean slate, to learn perhaps from the debacle that was Hall/Kinlyside, and to be involved in a constructive consideration of the issues going to the establishment of rural residential development in the ACT - a lost opportunity to do the right thing, to deal with it objectively, and a complete misuse of consultancies. If all the Minister wanted was a document which reflected the Government's position to allow the Government to implement their policy on rural residential development, then he could simply have asked his department to prepare the document. We did not need to go through this charade of seeking an arm's length, outside, objective source to give us objective advice that might be the basis of a rural residential policy that was sustainable.
The documents showing the extent to which this Minister has misled this place and the community have been circulated. They are stark. Members can look at yesterday's Hansard. Members can look at the extent to which the Minister simply dug in, apart from conceding that he was not necessarily aware of what his department does. The "I am not aware" response which the Minister persistently gives to questions in this place will be the Minister's political epitaph - "Mr Brendan 'I am not aware' Smyth, Minister for Urban Services".