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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 August 2005) . . Page.. 3101 ..

a definite thirst and hunger there among students to be involved in issues that so concern them.

It was very clear to me that young people are passionate about the environment. They care very much. When they went away in their small groups, which, unfortunately, I was not privy to, and if I was I would have had to have had a number of bodies to have gone to all of them, their concern was which arrangement would best suit the management of our rivers. It was very hotly argued. Both Mr Gentleman and I saw that in the questions and statements that students made following our presentations.

In fact, this was the first ever of this series of constitutional learning experiences where students actually voted yes. Having been told that referenda very rarely bring in a positive response, those students did vote yes. In that case, of course, I take some credit because I did argue the case that the commonwealth should have control. Mind you, I suppose if I had been given the other side, I would have argued that quite persuasively, too, because I do not think it is a question to which there is a black and white answer.

I want to say in conclusion that I think it is really important that young people’s concerns about their future and their desire to be involved in decisions about it should be taken seriously, that young people are, perhaps, like other members of the community, already rather cynical about politics and politicians, and that we in this house have a really strong obligation to nurture any interests that they might have and to show them that we, as politicians, are as concerned about the issues as they are, that we care about them, that we listen to them and that, as far as possible, we want to represent their interests.

Good neighbour day

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (6.17): I draw members’ attention to a front page article in the Canberra Times today entitled “Move to avert a city of strangers” by Megan Doherty. I will read a portion of the article:

Leading social commentator Hugh McKay is at the head of moves to prevent Canberra from becoming a city of strangers.

A special day could be held in Canberra next year just to help people get to know their neighbours as big changes across society, such as increasing divorce rates, and local factors, such as the national capital transient population, make it more difficult for communities to connect.

I just wanted to say how intrigued I was to read that article. Yes, the Liberal opposition have been very vocal in calling for the abolition of the Community Inclusion Board and fund and I think that really we are standing on very solid ground in doing that. It must be said, though, at the outset, and I make this point quite emphatically, that this is in no way a personal attack on board members. They are some very fine upstanding people. However, $8.548 million over four years I think is money that could be better spent on frontline critical services. Indeed, in March this year I wrote to the minister for community services, Mr Hargreaves, and on Sunday, 6 March I put out a media release entitled “Good neighbour day should be adopted in ACT”. It states:

Shadow Minister for Community Services, Jacqui Burke, has written to the Minister for Community Services asking him to consider adopting a scheme called “Good Neighbour Day.”

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