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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3026 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

This issue is of such huge importance that it needs to be put to constituents in a way that allows them to express their concerns. I am saddened to hear the words of our colleague the Leader of the Opposition speaking on behalf of a future government. If the things go the way that they could on 20 October, he might well become Chief Minister. His government will have to deal with this problem. His government will need an input from the community so he can get the results he needs.

Mr Wood was a member of the Follett government. So was Mr Berry. Indeed, Mr Berry was minister for health in the Follett government. He knows the law enforcement problems that that government had to tackle. If you doubt that there are health problems, talk to a GP. If you doubt that there is a problem in the policing arrangements, talk to police officers, as I do. Recently, out of 100 addicts, 60 or more indicated that they had committed a crime. Burglary is the most predominant one that comes to my mind. These are facts.

To sit on our hands and do nothing would be to abrogate our responsibilities to a community that needs to have a say on this issue and wants to have a say on this issue. A referendum is a fundamental requirement to allow the citizens of Canberra to have a choice, to participate, to be involved and to be listened to.

During the campaign some arguments will be put against the two questions. That will be the right of those putting those arguments. But at the end of the day the people will have spoken and a decision will have to be made on that referendum.

I was interested to hear that a referendum will cost $200,000-plus. I think Mr Kaine said $210,000. What is the cost to the community of crime, detoxification and the educational programs that have been undertaken? What is the real cost? It is millions of dollars and the sad loss of young lives through addiction.

At the election we will be leading the rest of Australia in electronic voting. I remind members that on 20 October there will be a trial of electronic voting. This bodes well for future referenda questions. It would be very simple to do. This is progressive move.

We have to find alternatives. To do that, we have to be strong enough to take the issues to the people we serve. I believe that putting a referendum to the people of the ACT on 20 October is required.

Mr Stanhope, the Leader of the Opposition, said earlier this year that a referendum was not suited to complex issues. He said:

Referendums are not the way to set public policies, and particularly on issues of such complexity that demand a multiplicity of responses. They are more properly used to decide questions about our systems of government.

I reject that view. I believe that these issues are so contentious to our community that we have an obligation to listen and take heed of what the community requires. If not, what are we afraid of? Mr Stanhope, in an interview last week on radio 2CA, said that governments and politicians are paid to make decisions. I agree that they are paid to

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