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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 643 ..

Burnie Court - Working Bee

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (5.53), in reply: Mr Speaker, I would like to read into Hansard a letter that was in the Canberra Times this week. The letter appeared under the title "It could only happen in Canberra", and says:

Burnie Court, Lyons, that large complex of government flats opposite Woden Plaza on Melrose Drive, was the location of a highly unusual Saturday-morning activity which clearly falls into the category you wouldn't expect (unless you were in Canberra).

Working bees are not uncommon, but one that has three Cabinet ministers and the Speaker of the Assembly actually doing work alongside senior bureaucrats, serving police officers, TotalCare workers and government tenants - and has no television or press media teams in evidence - must be against every principle of politics. The spin doctors should have been salivating. I was and I'm not a spin doctor.

In what I'm told is stage one of an ongoing program of community-involved maintenance and amenity-improvement activities at the complex of some 264 residential units, the picture of Gary Humphries (ACT Attorney-General) running a wheelbarrow full of mulch that had been filled by police officers from Community Relations and government tenants to be spread out by senior officers of ACT Housing working alongside more government tenants; or Greg Cornwell (Speaker of the Assembly), tall as he is, having trouble pruning the tops of some shrubs and having to throw down the gloves he had been wearing to a local resident should have been flashed around the world (well, around Canberra at least).

Bill Stefaniak (Police Minister) was there, as well as Brendan Smyth, who did his stint early. I understand Brendan had the 8 am to 10 am shift and, although I wasn't present, the locals told me he was "a bloody good worker".

There would have been photo opportunities galore, so I asked Barbara Norman, the executive officer of ACT Housing, why all these people were there actually doing work with no media presence and she replied, "Because they care, want to show encouragement to the tenants and they don't want publicity".

Maybe Canberra politics is coming of age: in any event, it really is something that could really only happen in Canberra and one more reason for all Canberrans to be proud: and it does deserve some recognition.

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