Page 4858 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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Now there is also the expectation that a permanent committee will be established to replace the task force. Mr Corbell just updated us on that, though, when he said that the existing task force would continue. What I want to know is: who is going to be on this committee? Will it be the same people? What transparency will there be and how will its operations and advice be communicated? Will they just go straight to the minister or will there be some more transparency?

The Greens are quite sceptical of the advisory groups that have been set up by the government, and I do note that Mr Corbell used that term today, because, for instance, the dragway advisory committee has been set up, seemingly, to advise the government. But, while we are told by Mr Stanhope that that is a consultative process, what in fact is stifling the community in relation to that is that the members of that committee, who, for instance, come from residents associations, are not actually allowed to communicate to those associations what is going on in the committee. They received reports last week that are of vital interest to local residents and to dragway proponents alike. But, if those people are really doing their job, they are not telling their constituents what is in them. That is not really what I would call consultation. It certainly is not a fair representation and I would go so far as to say that it puts those people in a very difficult situation. If they are not allowed to report to their constituencies, and their constituencies want to know, that is a very difficult situation to be in. So I would strongly advise the government about setting up another such group.

The motion agreed to in August suggests that the government will ensure that any ongoing committee does include community representation and that the committee itself will act in an open, transparent manner with commitment to true consultation. That means communication backwards and forwards between the government and the communities that they represent. By the way, I understand that a social planner—and I am very glad there was a social planner—on the task force did speak to groups like ACTCOSS, but she was not in a position where she had to represent those views to the rest of the committee. She was not a representative of the community sector. She was recognised as someone who was good at talking to the community sector, but that is not consultation either.

There are broader questions that need to be considered and explored by the wider Canberra community. One is the general transport philosophy. The monorail proposal that was put on the table during the Canberra Times-led discussion of Civic development certainly put transport, and indeed public transport, centrally on the table in terms of this proposal. This report and the government’s response only deal with transport issues in a half-baked way. I note that there is now a presumption that the Civic bus interchange will be demolished and replaced with a less focused bus system in Civic. I am not aware of any consultation on this matter that has been conducted with bus commuters and potential bus commuters, nor indeed with retailers who benefit from people being able to catch public transport into Civic, in order to find out the impact on them of such changes. Given that, I can only state that in my view the transport proposals for Civic should still be on the table.

There is also the question of the National Capital Authority’s Griffin legacy plans for substantial development along Constitution Avenue and in the area known as West Basin. These are areas that are under the purview of the NCA and so are difficult to

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