Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 6 Hansard (11 May) . . Page.. 1589 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
We have not always been successful in providing good government, I fear, but I am confident, because there remain ahead many decades, perhaps even centuries, of evolution of this place. As that evolution eventuates, perhaps wiser heads will contemplate the nature that this Assembly has assumed, that of conflict rather than cooperation, of confrontation rather than consensus. Perhaps they can devise an Assembly that can use the talents and abilities of all of its members rather than excluding the majority from the decision-making processes, perhaps an inclusive Assembly that can serve the people better, perhaps even with fewer than 17 members rather than more. The vision of the 1970s and the early Legislative Assembly members and House of Assembly members should not be allowed to fade into obscurity. Their vision was no different, I submit, to that of many of us here today.
On this question of the people, Mr Speaker, I think on reflection we have missed the point in these anniversary celebrations. There are two major events - a seminar at $250 a head and a black tie dinner at $100 a head. Where is the involvement of the people in this? When it is all done, I fear that 300,000 Canberrans will simply shrug their shoulders and ask, "What part of it was relevant to me?". I think after 10 years, or 25 years - again depending on your perspective - that is a great pity.
All in all, Mr Speaker, I guess I can conclude where I began. It has been a hell of a roller-coaster ride, sometimes exhilarating, more often than not frustrating, but by and large, I think, rewarding. Not everyone will agree, I would imagine, but I am convinced that we are better off with self-government than without it. At least the members of this place are answerable to this community. That was not always the case. It has been a great experience, Mr Speaker. I have enjoyed much of it with you and with Mr Hird. I would not have missed the experience for quids.
MR WOOD (10.28): Mr Speaker, I wear with belated pride, the ALP campaign badge for the first Assembly election. I still have quite a few. My wife, Beverley, dug them out of the garage last night. We were supposed to sell them. We could not give them away. That is no reflection on the Labor Party. I am sure the Liberals had the same difficulty.
I will make some random comments today connected only by my association with this place. I assert that concerns about democracy were not the basis of the Federal Government's decision to grant self-government to the ACT. Their concerns about finance were central to it. They were concerned about money. The Feds had long ago decided - and it was a Labor government then that made the ultimate decision - that the gravy train was over. While there had been justification in early days to help those people who came to the dusty limestone plains, that justification was long gone and it was felt we should be treated the same as the States.
Then maybe democracy took over, because the Feds said, "Canberrans will take those hard decisions about reducing expenditure". As I reflect on things, I think it was the wrong way round. At that time, the real reasons were never given. The case was never argued to the unwilling ACT. What if the Feds had made all those hard decisions? What if they had made the cuts and taken the odium? Instead of resentment and complaint and inability to sell badges, instead of doors slammed in my face as we went door-knocking, we might have had the citizenry on their knees begging for democracy, begging for