Page 4866 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (5.30), in reply: I am pleased that the Treasurer has given us the opportunity to speak eventually. I thank all members for their contribution to the debate. I am particularly disappointed that this bill will not be supported. It is interesting that I have not heard any substantive arguments against it, particularly from the Treasurer. In fact, the Treasurer’s main argument was that it is an “I am going to get in first” bill. We always enjoy it when the Treasurer comes in at the end of a debate and gives us his reflections on how the debate has been conducted. He put no substantive arguments whatsoever against the bill. All he could say was, “I am going to get in first.” There has been a little bit of that in the planning minister’s actions in relations to City Hill. He heard about Terry Snow’s plan and he raced out and released his own. That is the pot calling the kettle black.

Before I conclude, I do want to respond to some of the points that have been made during the debate. Mr Corbell questioned which school of politics I had been to when I said that he had stacked the committee. It is technically true that there is not an ACT government majority on the task force. There were six ACT government representatives, one NCA and six non-government. Anyone who has been around politics or anywhere else or has dealt with committees knows that, if you have six members of a committee of 13 voting the one way all the time together, it is not very hard to get the result you want. You only need one other person to come on board.

It does not take a genius to figure out that you are pretty much going to get your own way most of the time if six are voting in a bloc and the others are not part of a bloc. In addition, you have the NCA as the seventh member. Whilst not part of the ACT government, Mr Corbell knew their views very much going in. As I made the point when we were having some banter across the chamber before, Rupert Murdoch does not have a 50 per cent share in News Corporation, but there is no doubt who controls it. I think that is true of this committee.

I point out that apparently the new policy under Mr Corbell is to do as he is told by the NCA. That is what we heard today. We heard that he does as he is told by the NCA. He said to us, “The NCA does not want to relinquish control of some of these areas. So we are just going to do as the NCA tells us.” Has Mr Corbell lobbied the territories minister? Has he lobbied the Prime Minister? Has he lobbied his federal Labor ACT representatives? No. What he has done is: he has said, “Annabelle Pegrum said no, so we cannot do anything about it.” This is the new attitude.

We always hear Mr Stanhope say that he wants to take on the federal government. We heard that response when we had the debate a couple of weeks ago in this place. What we had from Mr Corbell was: “No, we cannot do it because a public servant said we cannot.” I do not know whom Mr Corbell represents but he should represent the people of the ACT. If there are changes that need to be made, why not lobby his federal colleagues? Why not lobby the federal government to make the changes? It is the elected representatives who makes those decisions, in the end; it should not be an unelected, unaccountable body, the NCA, which makes those final decisions. Mr Corbell’s response on the NCA and on what kind of control it has had over this process has been illuminating.

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