Page 81 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 12 February 2008
31 months of agonising indecision, 511 days of strangling the Tharwa community while indecisively faffing around, money wasted on preliminaries for a concrete bridge, tripping over but not recognising the abundant engineering evidence pointing to the best option being restoration, and ignoring the heritage imperatives. What a circus! Except, of course, you cannot call it a circus because some tragedy has come out of this in terms of pressure on the community and hardship in Tharwa particularly.
Mr Speaker, we go on with a number of other examples of poor government decision-making processes, and the busway project is a classic example of that. At least $3.5 million was spent on that project—it is said that it is perhaps a little bit more money than that—on a process that was simply going nowhere.
The Gungahlin Drive Extension is another example. While some of the three years of delays in the GDE project can be explained away, what tangled, inefficient decision-making process led to this debacle which has seen a vital road project—a badly needed road project—blow its budget by at least 110 per cent of the original determination, reduce its capacity from four lanes to two lanes and, minus a discount for lobby group disruption, which this government feebly could not cope with, be effectively two years late?
Now I want to talk about consultation. Consultation is a key part of any good government decision-making process. We have so many examples where consultation has not been well managed by this government, and one of the key elements of implementing good government process is early consultation—consultation with the community and consultation with experts. Again, adequate consultation is something that cannot be attributed to many of the decisions made by the Stanhope government. We have seen vital decisions made where there was not sufficient consultation, and if sufficient consultation had occurred it would have assisted the government to make more timely and more efficient decisions on projects.
Mr Speaker, the school closures debacle is a classic example of poor government decision making. This was clearly a project where reactive decision making occurred. There was panic after a rationalisation analysis was undertaken, and we saw some quite dramatic and rather gut wrenching decisions taken which had an incredible impact on a community but where the consultation processes had not occurred before those decisions were taken. The consultation which occurred after the commencement of the school closures program involved sham consultations on how might be the best way to close schools as opposed to justifying the closure of schools. As a consequence of this muddle-headed government decision-making process, a lot of hurt has been visited upon the community.
While we are talking about consultation, let us have a look at the Griffith library closure. When the decision was taken to close the library, and again at a post-action so-called consultation meeting, the minister said to the community—I witnessed it personally, as did much of the media—”Why would we bother to consult when we knew what you, the community, would say?” That sums it up for the Stanhope government.
Consultation means preliminary discussions with the community early in the decision-making process, not a failure to discuss at all or a sham, post-action,