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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 565 ..



We would not have been the first person to suggest that, if we had. He continued:

Who is Softlaw that "it was not satisfied by the Chief Minister's explanation"?

I know we are all supposed to accept what the Chief Minister says without question, but surely, Mr Hird, you accept that members of the community are entitled to question it too, and there are growing numbers of people who question the Chief Minister's evidence and her ability to come completely clean. I do not know that she would be that happy with you for raising that issue in your dissenting report. I think, Mr Hird, your dissenting report does you a disservice, and it does the Liberal Party a disservice because it does not go to the issues which you might, from your ideological position, reasonably argue against the conclusions of the report.

One of the most important issues which haveeen highlighted by this report is the failure of the Government to consult properly. We all recall the fanfare with which the consultation protocol was issued to the community in some sort of attempt to cause everybody to accept that the Government was a consultative and open government. Of course, it is not, and this is another example where the consultation utterances of the Government have been shown to be false.

The classic example of this was how the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the ACT and Region got itself tangled up in the process. It appears that the chamber was contacted by the department for an endorsement of the department's position. Not everybody else was consulted to this extent. Then a letter was drawn up in the department and sent to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and, lo and behold, it returned to the department without a full stop being changed and on the chamber's letterhead. I do not think the chamber even considered it. I think they just gave it the tick because the Liberal Minister suggested that it would be a good idea. Let us not forget that the chamber has been, almost without failure, an echo of this Government in the community. I do not think the chamber does its members any favours by this sycophantic approach in relation to this report.

Mr Hird referred to the ideological position of other members. I have a great deal of difficulty with the Federal Government's work for the dole program. It is clearly a program which sets out to blame the victims, the victims being the unemployed. This work for the dole plan is an extension of that. It has its origins in that. What I found most difficult was to find out where it all began, where the idea first came from, who started this off. We were never able to get our hands on the original idea. Who was it who said, "This would be a good idea."? Was it a telephone contact from the Federal Government to all State governments of their own persuasion, suggesting, "Look, we've got this work for the dole program and we would like to see it work. Can you help us?". What was the level of political involvement in ensuring that this approach was taken? Who knows?

We never saw any evidence that would convince me, at least, that that did not happen. There is certainly not much evidence to suggest that this particular program was going to have any positive outcomes for the participants. First of all it was trumpeted as some sort of a training program, but the only training that participants are going to have, it appears,

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