Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2971 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
To begin with, there has been a failure of responsibility and leadership in not wishing to join with the federal authorities in sorting out this long-running saga. Next is the exploitation of the tent embassy situation in order to pick an undignified blue with the feds. Is this territorial government maturity? Does this advance our cause for further delegation of powers?
The second example, which I now give, is far more important to me in my capacity as shadow sports minister. Here the government has shown a more serious example of reckless administration-one which has invited the tough federal response of a threat by the feds to take action, due to poor and lazy planning. That is the threat to lose the Australian Institute of Sport, because of the government's foolish plan to drive the Gungahlin Drive extension down the western precinct of the AIS.
Mr Speaker, this nation and, I suspect, many Canberrans, will not blame the federal authorities if they do relocate the AIS-heaven forbid!-because of concern that it is likely to be severely affected by new territorial works. Is it any wonder that the federal authorities have been critical? Is this criticism an attack on our self-determination? I think not. You cannot have a both-ways government. You cannot bleat for greater autonomies if you demonstrate little respect for federal and national assets and icons, such as the AIS.
The AIS is a world-class premier sporting institute. It has played a significant role in the success of this country's sporting teams, especially in the past decade. It is integral to the sporting and sport science capability developments of this country and this territory-yet the government does not seem to give a toss. This reckless attitude does little to advance the self-determination of the ACT.
MS DUNDAS (4.02): Mr Hargreaves has spoken eloquently today about the right of the ACT community to self-determination. Whilst I agree, largely, with his comments, I believe we should think very carefully before declaring that the federal government has no role to play in the ACT.
I am as annoyed as any ACT government member about the interference of the federal government in the decision about the route for the Gungahlin Drive extension. If the will of the local community on the number of members and electorates is clear, then I do not think the federal government should block proposed changes to the ACT Legislative Assembly.
That does not necessarily mean there will never be a role for the federal government to play in our local affairs, because our current multi-member electoral system makes it unlikely that any party will gain a majority in this house. Majority government seems to be what the ALP wants to achieve, through its proposed changes to this Assembly.
Let us consider what would happen if this occurred. Do you remember Joh Bjelke-Petersen's Queensland in the 1970s, or Jeff Kennett's Victoria in the 1990s? I can tell you now-I do not want to go there. The adage "absolute power corrupts absolutely" is as true now as it ever was. It is clear that any government which can legislate unchecked by a crossbench or upper house can sweep away civil liberties and crucial services which have taken decades to establish.