Page 1739 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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come from outside his department and a local could not possibly be capable of coming up with a good idea, we need to look outside Canberra.

This kind of attitude is not good for Canberra. We need to have a reasonable, rational debate about our city heart. Entrenched, defensive, obstinate positions as expressed by the planning minister will not contribute to that debate. Remember that it is becoming a pattern for this government: to shut down debate as much as possible. We have seen that in the Assembly on numerous occasions in the past few months. We have seen the government try to shut down inquests. We have seen the government finishing early when it runs out of business on the notice paper. We have seen debates shut down when the government has not liked the subject matter and we have seen the estimates committee stacked to avoid scrutiny.

Mr Corbell’s approach to the issue of City Hill can be contrasted with the experience of Ian Graham, the planning manager for the city of Wagga, whose experience was reported in the Canberra Times last week. He said, “It’s important to consider everyone, to keep them on side.” Mr Corbell, far from considering everyone and keeping them on side, seems to be simply defending his own model, at the expense of valuable suggestions from others. When Terry Snow dared to enter the debate, Mr Corbell attacked him for doing so.

When Mr Corbell put forward his proposal, he said nothing about its being intended to stimulate debate or being a starting point that would attract other ideas. He said, to quote from this press release:

… the concept planning had opened the way for more detailed planning, engineering and traffic investigations regarding the impacts on traffic and parking. This will lead to the preparation of appropriate planning instruments to allow development to proceed.

It appears that Mr Corbell never intended for other plans to be considered. His press release made no allowance for that. He speaks purely of doing a couple of studies and preparing the instruments, spending the money and off we go. That is not quite the public process that the government has been speaking of in recent days. There has been a bit of ambiguity over exactly what is the government’s position. I also read yesterday on page 222 of budget paper 3, reference to a feasibility study of “City Hill, Constitution and Edinburgh Avenues and Lake Burley Griffin Connections” at a cost of $500,000; so the money is now being spent to put Mr Corbell’s plan into account.

That brings me to this point: what is the government’s position on City Hill? Yesterday, in response to a question, Mr Corbell refused to say whether he had cabinet approval. He just said, “I spoke to the Chief Minister, so it is all fine.”

Mr Corbell: What is the Liberal Party’s position on City Hill? That would be a more relevant question. Do they have a position?

MR SESELJA: I am asking the question. On the one hand, we have Simon Corbell with his defensive, shoot the messenger approach. If someone puts up a good idea that is contrary to his, he is going to attack them. He attacks them for being rich. He goes after the man. On the other hand, we have the Chief Minister, who has at least said in relation to this matter that he is open to some of the ideas being put forward. Mr Corbell

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