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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1000 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

Mr Kaine has made a suggestion to our colleague Mr Osborne with respect to withdrawing the motion and sending the issue across to the pricing regulator, and I think that is something that Mr Osborne may have overlooked. It is for Mr Osborne to make that decision, but I think those are wise words from Mr Kaine.

On 7 December last year, the Minister for Urban Services, Brendan Smyth, tabled in this place a draft exposure bill to amend the Workers Compensation Act 1951. The bill is an attempt, on the part of this government, to develop a consensus about how to take forward these difficult areas of public policy. At this time, December last year, the minister offered all members of this place and the community the opportunity to meet with him or officers of his department to discuss the proposed reforms.

Minister Smyth has informed me that many in our community have taken up the offer. In fact, the government has contacted 17 peak bodies, had over 20 meetings with stakeholders, and received more than a dozen written submissions to date. There have been many meetings with both the minister and officers of the department, and in some cases key stakeholders have also met with the Chief Minister, Mr Humphries.

However, Mr Speaker, there is one group within this community that to date has neither asked about, or sought, to meet with either the minister or officers of his department. I am sad to say that that group, Mr Speaker, is members of this place.

Not one non-government MLA has sought the advice of the minister or his departmental officer, so they could grasp an understanding of the proposal to reform this legislation. It is an important piece of legislation, as Mr Berry said, yet as we assemble here today, we are prepared to make a fundamental change to legislation with barely a second thought to the consequences of our actions as legislators.

I ask members of this place, is this the legacy that we want to leave to our successors after 20 October this year, or do we want to leave a legacy of careful and considered legislative development, designed not to aid narrow sectional interest, but the whole community?

Problems have occurred in this place in the past as the result of rushing and pushing legislation on the run. We have had to revisit legislation, and the children's magistrate area is just one that I could mention as an example. The action taken in this place will affect the whole of our community, and I agree with the Chief Minister, who warned about taking up the option, and said that we should rethink it to make certain that we are on solid ground.

I also refer to what Mr Berry said when he referred to the failure to wipe out costs, and simply transferring them from one business to another. When we analyse the whole complexity of the issue, it is obvious that we, as legislators, must be extremely diligent when addressing this type of matter. Not only does it have ramifications for the whole community, it also involves financial obligations that will go on and on, and cost dearly. We should learn from our past mistakes, Mr Speaker.

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