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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 90 ..

his personal fancy. He wanted it built and cabinet essentially said to him, “Well, we’re not going to let you build it but go and spend the $3½ million anyway, just to make yourself feel better.”

That is an indictment of this government’s decision-making process. The cabinet is prepared to look at a process when they know it does not stack up. They absolutely knew. Ted Quinlan knew it; John Hargreaves knew it. Someone else in cabinet clearly knew it because they got a majority against it. They knew it was a bad idea from start to finish: $115 million, $150 million, whatever figure you want to cite, for a busway through the middle of the bush, in order to save three minutes, was never going to fly. Yet they were happy to allow Simon Corbell to go and spend $3½ million of taxpayers’ money that could have been spent on much more important infrastructure. It could have gone towards fixing real problems. It could have gone towards improving our road network. It could have gone towards upgrading buses. It could have gone towards any manner of things.

We see these individual decisions, such as the $4½ million spent on FireLink, the $3½ million on the busway, half a million dollars on pay parking and the money spent on the arboretum. These are bad decisions that embarrass the government. John Hargreaves tried to say that it was simply a political issue, but what it does is actually prevent that money from being spent on the things that really make a difference to the people of the ACT—the things that really improve their lives over time. That is the real tragedy here. Minister Hargreaves tries to dismiss this as a political issue—that the decision-making process is not important and that these howlers of decisions that we have talked about today are not howlers.

He stood there with a straight face and defended the busway process when he knows that it was a bad idea from the start. Money was spent on a short-term plan for a busway that was never going to fly, and they allowed it to happen. These poor decisions affect Canberrans because they prevent this money from being spent on the key priorities of Canberrans—the key priorities that make their lives better.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.12): The topic for the MPI sent me on a journey of discovery. What exactly is the decision-making process in the ACT with the Stanhope Labor government? As usual, one starts with the web. I am quite concerned that too much of our service delivery and consultation now is reliant on the web, but since it is that seemed like the first place to start. I am afraid to say that the web was not a great deal of help in this case. Let us just imagine that I am an ordinary Canberra person—which, of course, I am but slightly privileged by being here in the Assembly and focused for about 24 hours a day on government: what it is doing and what it could be doing.

I found that there are two possible places you might look for community consultation. That is going to be my focus in this speech—community consultation within decision making. I will explain why later. Apparently, community engagement and communication is to be found under TAMS, in the Office of the Chief Executive, whereas policy aspects of community engagement are to be found under the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, DHCS. If I was an ordinary person just wondering where I should go, I would not know which of these two I should follow up.

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