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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 498 ..


(12.23): I will be supporting the censure motion, even though I have heard Mr Smyth acknowledge that he did mislead in some way, or was incorrect in his language, or however he expressed his moving back from his original position. I have heard what Mr Osborne has just said. He is going to attempt to reduce the censure motion to an expression of grave concern from the Assembly. I would stay with the censure motion because I want to actually send a message to the whole Government through this. I notice from interjections throughout this debate that there has been a defence from members of the Government saying, "This is how you do business. This is how it is always done". I find that pretty concerning, because I think it is misleading to the community.

Obviously, there are sometimes issues about ownership when a government department employs a consultant to do work for it. But this is a discussion paper which gives the impression that it has been prepared by consultants as their paper and it is prepared for the Department of Urban Services. Members of the Government have said that this was not about giving an objective picture on the question of rural residential. Well, I am sorry, but the community was under the impression that that was exactly what it was about. Obviously, the consultant was under the impression that that was what he was producing. So, there are a couple of issues there for a start - how what was required in the contract was specified in the contract. Obviously, it was not well put together, if the consultant was under the impression that he was actually producing an objective picture of issues related to rural residential.

I think it is quite enlightening to look at these FOI documents and to see his distress at how that process was conducted. I have to say that I am actually very concerned about the likelihood of that particular consultant getting a job in this town after this, because there is a general sense that you do create what the Government requires and he has got his professional credibility at stake as a consultant to produce what he thought was an objective paper on these issues, which clearly it is not. There is an absolute classic in one of these dot points. It says:

Selective use of rural residential development at the interface between the hill and buffer areas, and urban areas of Canberra may be used to create a more environmentally sympathetic edge to the urban edge of the metropolitan area.

And the comment on the side from the consultant is:

Putting houses in the environment would be more sympathetic to the environment than leaving it alone?

How could anybody suggest that, when we already have planning documents which have specifically decided that we would have this buffer zone and that this was part of the identity of the national capital? It really is of grave concern.

The papers obtained by Mr Corbell also appear to confirm my original impression of the discussion paper, in that it appears that the consultant was pressured to change his report to fit government policy. The deletion of references to the bungled Hall/Kinlyside

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