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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3293 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I am sure this bill will come back, and I am sure that the Liberal Party, for as long as Mr Humphries is in the chair, will continue to advocate this particular point of view. But the real challenge for the Legislative Assembly is not to say whether or not we should have this type of mechanism introduced into our democracy for decision-making. The real challenge is to look at what techniques, what mechanisms, we can use to engage people in meaningful ways about the decisions that affect them and about the issues that confront them as they live their lives as citizens in our community.

Far from attempting to use mass solutions, I argue that the micro-level community-based decision-making models are the ones that we need to strive to improve and refine. An example of that is the LAPAC model that the Chief Minister mentioned earlier. Local area planning advisory groups, whilst fundamentally flawed, I would argue, by the way this government has established them, do have the potential to engage people in a grassroots local community sense about the decisions that immediately affect their neighbourhood. Far from disparaging those models, far from saying that they are models we really find awkward or cumbersome, we should be looking at ways of using that sort of model to engage people in decision-making in a more meaningful way; to give them the information they need and to allow them to be contemplative, allow them to be engaged in a longer term view of what should be happening in their community, rather than simply mass mechanisms that say either yes or no. That is a simplistic approach by this government when more complex solutions are needed to the increasingly complex problems and issues our society faces.

MR BERRY (4.32): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I heard somebody say earlier in the debate that the more often this debate occurs the more convinced they become that it is the wrong direction. I think it was Mr Moore. It is the same for me. Having seen the experience in other countries and thought about it somewhat over the years, it has become abundantly clear to me that this would be a dangerous step for the ACT to take, or anybody anywhere else for that matter, in terms of democracy.

Yes, it has superficial attractions. In fact, I think at this time of the electoral cycle it ranks of populism. I think it is a populist move to try to attract the attention of voters, a little bit like the populist move that seems to turn up at every election campaign-that we should have a council-style government. Well, we have a council-style government and a state-style government wrapped together. We have a democratic process. It is a multi-member system which enables people from outside the major parties to become elected. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the policies of those who are elected, and whether they are elected on particular policies or not. But that is a cycle in the democratic process which will ebb and flow from time to time. I do not have any particular difficulty with that. It is our job to expose the frailties of the politics of a particular grouping from time to time, and if we fail to do that then we fail to serve our respective electors.

I remember years ago what I think was described as proposition 13 in Reagan's California constituency, as I recall. It was about paying extra taxes. The citizenry were called upon to vote on whether they should pay more taxes, and of course they said no.

Mr Humphries: It was actually the Carter period. It was before Reagan.

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