Page 4607 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 November 2005

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negotiating of hard agreements. The attitude of the Liberal Party is: if the negotiations are tough, disengage; tug a coat here or there. You have got the Mulcahy coat-tugging example: you go to New South Wales and begin to negotiate a cross-border water agreement, a cross-border regional settlement agreement, knowing that there are enormous costs and implications for the ACT taxpayer in unrestrained, unregulated and uncoordinated development across the border. To use education as one example: it is to the tune of $22 million.

We have seen that reflected today in the attitude of the conga line: get in line; do not argue; bail out; Bob Winnel is one of our mates; let us develop Tralee; let us not even debate or enter into an agreement or negotiations on the basis, the consideration or the framework for coming to decisions on how we determine the cross-border regional settlement, the sequencing of the development and how we address the costs to us of that settlement, whether it be in the provision of education, in the provision of roads or in the provision of the whole range of community services that will be delivered by the people of the ACT, the ACT ratepayer, for the use of our neighbours across the border. Education is the clearest and starkest example—$22 million or thereabouts of unremitted cost to the ACT taxpayer from cross-border movement of just under 5,000 students in both the non-government and the government sectors.

We are out there negotiating this and we will not be steamrolled; we will not tug coats; we will not brownnose; we will simply not crawl in the way Mr Mulcahy would. Mr Mulcahy is up there, deferentially tugging the backs of coats, “treat me as a big boy,” “I want to play, too,” “treat me as one of the big boys,” “I want to play the game as well,” “I will pay any price,” “I will tug the coat,” “I will crawl,” “I will brownnose,” “I will do anything I can to ingratiate myself for the photo opportunity”—because it is all about the photo opportunity; it is not about standing up, fighting, arguing and advocating.

We have a range of costs, whether it be in relation to land sales, as Mr Winnel talks and scoffs about. He does not talk about education provision; he does not talk about health services; he does not talk about a full range of community services; he does not strut up and say, “I will build the roads.” He does not say, “I will worry about the public transport infrastructure; I will put in the infrastructure required to provide the water.”

MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.

Business support

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the minister for economic development. It concerns business support.

Minister, you would be aware that the ACT economy offers limited employment for people without post-secondary education and that ongoing under-and unemployment is particularly prevalent amongst men in that sector. You would also be aware that construction is a major industry in the territory and that the market for energy efficient and environmentally sensitive building within it is destined for substantial growth. In that context I am aware of two ACT businesses focused on manufacturing construction components that employ a range of people, including blue-collar workers, and would be in a position to expand if the government were prepared to offer some support.

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