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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3506 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

works. Under the Westminster system, governments are responsible to the people through their Assembly. In this case, the Assembly made a decision and that decision was passed by a vote. I note that the government did not like it at the time, and that it did not vote for it, but you do not expect the arrogance of a flat no from a government minister who simply says, "I will not do as you direct me to do."

It's a long-held tradition in Westminster that ministers can receive directions from parliaments. Although this Assembly has a short history, we have traditionally always had minority governments-and it is a fact that Assemblies have, in the past, directed governments as to what to do-and I am sure Assemblies in the future will continue to do so.

This was not an onerous direction but, because of the arrogance of the minister, we see him continually saying no-he is not responsible to anyone. He is responsible to himself alone, apparently, because he simply answered, "No, I have not."What was asked of the minister? Not a great deal. The minister was simply asked to negotiate with the owners of the site, with a view to a land swap or suitable compensation, to ensure the preservation of the magnificent trees on that site. It is not hard to negotiate, Mr Speaker.

What is involved here is simply talking to people. If a suitable accommodation was unable to be reached, he could have come back and asked the Assembly for further direction, but no-this very arrogant Minister for Planning has determined that he does not have to listen to what the Assembly tells him. He does not have to listen to the will of the people, through their elected representatives, when a majority decision is taken. He is not liable; he is not responsible; he does not have to listen to anybody else because he is the planning minister.

At times, when we were in government, there was seemingly a hierarchy that the Assembly would ask for something, then call for something, and then direct something. If you look at the motion passed on 27 August this year, the Assembly was quite clear in what it said-the government is to negotiate. There is no room for manoeuvring there. The minister was directed to do something. However, he has failed to do that, therefore showing contempt for the motions passed by the Assembly. He shows an arrogant attitude which says, "I don't have to do what the elected representatives of the people of the ACT tell me to do."I do not want to reflect on the work of the committee which has already led the minister to be before a contempt committee. What we see here is a pattern.

There is an easy way out of this. The minister should do as he is asked. Governments, when directed by the Assembly or asked by the Assembly, should comply as much as they can. Maybe sometimes the Assembly will put terms or conditions in a motion which are completely beyond the ability of a government. It would then be right for a government to come back and say, "We tried, but we cannot do that. Here are the reasons why. We ask your indulgence not to make us pursue this motion."

However, the minister did not even try. He had no intention of trying. He told the Canberra Times-it was reported the next day, "No, I won't!"That arrogance is unacceptable in a minister. That is the reason why Mr Corbell-the Minister for Planning-deserves to be censured for his attitude.

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