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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3923 ..

MRS DUNNE: Is the new form of consultation used by the Stanhope government to make a decision and then tell the rabbits about it, as you have suggested, and how is this consistent with your pre-election promise to be an open and consultative government?

MR QUINLAN: The short answer is no. I did not call them rabbits. I said "rabbits running", which is about rumours running and ideas running. I wish you would not indulge in that sort of slight twist in the questioning. The answer is no. As I said as recently as yesterday, a large part of my time, particularly early on, was spent dealing with the tourism industry. The situation the previous Liberal government left behind was not an impressive situation to walk into. As you are aware, I made some changes fairly promptly, as this government is a government of action.

Those changes were widely and roundly accepted by the industry. I have interacted with the industry. I fully expect the tourism industry to do their job and to keep up the pressure. But there will be full consultation. They are going to have to fill the damn thing. I want whatever we build to be the proper and appropriate facility for the ACT, with the rider "if we can afford it".

Drought declaration

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for the environment, Mr Wood. I refer to your belated decision to drought declare the ACT and I refer to a quote in today's Canberra Times from local farmer Sandy Stuart, who said:

I just don't understand why it took so long to declare a drought. It's been obvious to city people, not just farmers, that we've been in drought for a long time.

Simon Crean launched the federal opposition's drought plan in Tharwa on Tuesday before you declared the drought. Mr Crean said:

The fact of the matter is farmers are struggling in these drought-affected conditions and they need immediate assistance.

Why did it take you so long to issue a drought declaration, given that surrounding areas of New South Wales have been drought declared for months?

MR WOOD: Perhaps through you, Mr Speaker, I could quote back to Mr Stefaniak the words of a farmer who rang the ABC this morning and said, "That's fine. That's the time for it." I think it is the time for it. It has been assessed over quite a period. We have looked at the conditions and decided that it was time.

The ACT has not been as severely affected as some parts not far away in New South Wales. You will recall that there was a fairly good drop of rain about two months ago. That may have made the difference. I am not an expert on this. Having assessed the moisture of the soil and the amount of feed, and having had discussion with the rural lessees, I think it was appropriate that yesterday we declared drought. Maybe different people have different ideas about it. I will trot out my witnesses and you can trot out yours.

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