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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1350 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Paragraph (4) of the motion expresses concern at the ongoing vacancy of the former Ansett call centre in Tuggeranong. We heard very little about that part of the motion. Paragraph (3) expresses concern at the flow-on effect the Ansett collapse is having on the tourism industry and other businesses in the ACT. Again, Ms MacDonald virtually ignored that point in her speech.

Ms MacDonald took a characteristic swipe at the Prime Minister because he happened to disagree with her. That is politics, I guess. But if we want to talk about the demise of Ansett, about the impact on staff who lost their jobs, who lost their livelihood, and who may have had their futures severely damaged if they have not been able to go on to other jobs, we need to do it in a spirit of honesty rather than making assertions that do not hold water.

I rang and spoke to the Kendell Airline employees. I went and met them at the front of this building. I went out and joined one of their "get behind Kendell" promotions at the airport. I rang their homes and spoke to their partners, when they were out waiting on tables. I rang them on their mobiles when they were in restaurants because they had nothing better to do. For Ms MacDonald to accuse me of sitting on my hands when she has no idea what I did is unfair and unfortunate. It is from Mark Latham school that substitutes bluster for concrete evidence and fact in parliamentary debate.

The demise of Ansett is unfortunate. I hope, like others, that we will see a new airline rise from the mess that has been created.

Ms MacDonald asserted that we sat on our hands and did nothing. I have been able to get just one of the press releases that were put out at the time. It speaks of a $250,000 contribution towards Hazelton advertising. That is hardly a case of us sitting on our hands. It talks of an additional $200,000 for the Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation to run a campaign encouraging people to refocus their travel destinations and to bolster the tourism industry. That hardly amounts to sitting on your hands. It talks of a further $100,000 to the national capital tourism education project, to stimulate tourism activity and to bolster those in the tourism industry who were affected by the collapse of Ansett. That is hardly sitting on your hands.

When you stand in this place, you need to get your facts straight. When we talk about unemployment, I must remind Ms MacDonald that when we came to office in 1995 unemployment in the ACT was at 7.1 per cent. It is now just above 4 per cent, which is a fairly good achievement, I would have thought-something unmatched in any other jurisdiction in this country. Again, get your facts straight.

We need to talk about individuals. I will talk about the people I spoke to and how they had their aspirations dashed, how they had their plans shattered, how they had their mortgages put at risk and how their relationships were affected. They told me. They spoke to me.

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