Page 758 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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That is “consensus on key ideas”. I guess the key idea is that we to do something to protect the Cotter catchment. That is the key idea. As to how we do it, I am sure Peter Kanowski, Robert Wasson and Peter Cullen all had different ideas, and that is why this motion is so important. Mrs Dunne is calling for the documents that prove that what the Chief Minister says is correct—or perhaps incorrect. I would hope that, in the documents the government should table, we get the minutes of the meeting so we will know what people like Kanowski, Cullen and Wasson actually said.

The second tactic the Chief Minister always uses is shoot the messenger. “I don’t like what is being said about me, so I’m going to shoot the messenger. They are wrong because I am the Chief Minister.” We have a record of this: shoot Phil Chaney when he dares to criticise the Chief Minister, and shoot Rosemary Purdy when she dares to criticise him. They are experts in their fields, but they are shot as the messengers because they simply do not agree with the Chief Minister.

This motion is timely. The community is concerned about what is happening in their catchment and this government is not listening to community concerns. I have an email from a constituent that says that this government is technologically and potentially insane for showing complete disregard for the lives of the people of Canberra. It goes on to say that a lot of Canberrans feel strongly about this issue and says, “Please protest in the strongest terms.”

When we protest we get Mr Hargreaves’s ulterior motives defence and the Chief Minister’s attack the messenger defence, but we do not get a clear and concise picture about what has happened here and what we should do to fix it. As to what has happened here and how we should fix it, there was an interesting article by Sandy Hollway in yesterday’s Canberra Times. In the article Mr Hollway says:

The Steering Committee remains concerned that turbidity in the Cotter is likely to remain too high if pines are replanted throughout the catchment.

We know that some of the watercourses have been lined with natives, but a large percentage of the catchment will still go back to pines, which says that, from the steering committee’s point of view, that is not a desirable outcome. The last two paragraphs in this article from Mr Hollway are the most interesting. He says:

In these circumstances, what the Government could do was set in place a policy and a process which permits analysis rather than politics, emotion or greed to determine what is done to protect Canberra’s water catchments.

That seems reasonable. The article continues:

This the government has done, and as more or different analysis comes in the actions can be adjusted and reshaped.

This is the steering committee chair, the man who signed off on the document, the man who told the Chief Minister to go ahead; but he says that, as more or different analysis comes in, the actions can be adjusted and reshaped. Let us have that debate about adjustment and reshaping. But we on this side, and the community out there, cannot have that debate until we know what the government’s starting point was.

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