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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3046 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mrs Burke for that question. Yes, it is a matter of interest to this government to make sure that we increase accessibility to members of this place by the ACT community. The ACT Legislative Assembly is a body which was born in circumstances where many citizens of this community were unhappy about the fact. It has been the objective of this government to try to build bridges to involve the community and to make the community feel more ownership in the work of the Legislative Assembly.

We have implemented initiatives such as "Meet the minister", we have thrown the budget consultation process open to public scrutiny, and we have engineered the conduct of a number of exercises in finding out what the community thinks. The Artcraft customer feedback research, for example, is a measure to find out what the community feels about the things the government is doing and that the Assembly is doing. We have made those decisions against the background of a high degree of inaccessibility in government inherited from our predecessors.

The fact is that there are some steps that might be taken that are more likely to distance the community from the work of the Legislative Assembly. The cost associated with building electorate offices and staffing them in suburbs of Canberra is a cost which I do not believe is justifiable in the circumstances. Some estimates of that cost are very high. Some of them range up to $11/2 million a year, and $3 million in the first year for the cost of setup. If one assumes one has 17 members of the Assembly spread across three electorates with, say, one electorate officer only per member-other places have many more, but let us say only one here-and accommodation of 150 square metres per office, you very quickly reach that kind of cost.

If you were to remodel the entranceway to the Legislative Assembly to provide for more accessibility by this community, which apparently is breaking down the doors to get in here, add another $600,000 for that. Those promises could total in the next calendar year something approaching $3.428 million, according to estimates I have been given.

Mr Speaker, we have heard only in the last few days from national research that the community is interested in issues like health, education and law and order, yet we see some who believe that apparently the big issues are having more perks for members of the Legislative Assembly and having work done on the Legislative Assembly building. I think that indicates a very misguided sense of priorities in the course of administering public policy in this territory.

The fact is that this community needs to prove its accessibility by what it does, not by remodelling the Legislative Assembly building and not by stunts like putting electorate offices out in electorates at public expense and expecting the public to foot that bill for what is a matter of very doubtful public utility.

Little athletics

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to the sports minister, Mr Stefaniak. Minister, you may have seen television advertisements in recent days about the Little Athletics Association annual registration day being held this Saturday. I have been contacted by the Belwest club who have 230 children who were formerly based at Jamison oval. They were removed from this venue last year due to the insertion of a cricket pitch and were

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