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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3518 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

It is all very well to talk, as the minister did, about a legislative framework and about people who were involved in these negotiations. What about the people who were not involved and who subsequently decided that they wanted a different result? They deserve to be heard. We gave them the opportunity in this Assembly. A direction was given to the minister to look at a land swap or at suitable compensation, and the minister has ignored it. What is our purpose here if that is to be the case on every occasion?

My colleague, Mrs Dunne, mentioned Animals Afloat and the Gungahlin pedestrian precinct. I think I recall another one which involved self-funded retirees. This government simply cannot ignore the wishes of the majority of the house. You normally get your own way with this because that is the way that the Assembly operates, but there are occasions when the matter in hand is sufficiently important that members will take a stand. This Nettlefold Street issue was one of those.

I do not believe, Minister, in your words, that the motion that was put and supported by the majority is "unimplementable"and I do not believe it is "unenforceable". It is only unenforceable if you, Minister, in your arrogance, decide to ignore the wishes of the majority of this house. We are only asking that the government negotiate with the owners of the site for a land swap or suitable compensation. We are not demanding that the whole arrangement there be torn up.

I could imagine that you would be rightly annoyed, and you would probably have a stronger argument to put forward, if this Assembly had simply said, "Tear up the contract. Throw the whole thing out. We do not want anything of that nature to take place."We did not do so. We acted as a responsible body: we gave you a couple of options to follow. We gave you a chance to solve this problem in the interests of the people of Belconnen and elsewhere, in relation to these trees in Nettlefold Street.

We gave you those options, but you chose to ignore them because you appear to believe that, as minister, you have some infallibility. I was not aware that ministers of the Crown had that advantage over the rest of the other mortals in this house, far less the people out there in the ACT.

I would urge you, Minister, to take account of what is being said here today. This censure motion has not been brought on lightly. However, I suspect that one of the reasons that members believe, as I certainly do, that it has to be brought to a head here today is that if we do not challenge this question, if we do not challenge this minister now with a censure, for the next 12 months this type of arrogance, as shown by him, will continue.

If he gets away with it, who is to say that it will not affect or infect the rest of this government, that this government will not be following the wishes of the majority of this Assembly, and thus the wishes of the majority of the people of the ACT? It will simply be ruling as it sees fit, in its own interests and-perish the thought-those of its mates.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (3.26): Mr Speaker, this motion today is a pretence. The opposition-and I say that it is confined to the Liberals, as they are the ones I have heard-are not really

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