Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 92 ..
all right; we all get behind. It has a couple of things like the feed-in tariff discussion paper, the mental health treatment and care options paper and a few surveys. I am always a little bit suspicious of surveys as a way of community consultation, because they are so one way: people do not see how their data was interpreted and so on. It is useful, but it is only part of a spectrum of tools.
Once upon a time, community consultation occurred out of the Chief Minister’s Department. I think that was where it needed to be: it needs to be a whole-of-government approach. Now, I am not sure. I have asked some questions on notice, which I have submitted today, but where is it? It looks as though it is in DHCS, but it looks as though policy might happen somewhere else. We need clarity about that.
Planning is one of the areas to look at if we want to think about consultation and decision making in the ACT. In the NCDC days, no-one was asked very much unless there was a really big fuss and it was a very controversial matter. We know that there have been local area planning advisory committees, LAPACs, and a lot of communities are really sad about the demise of those. There was the planning and development council, which was dropped in 2006. Now community councils are the be-all and end-all of community consultation on planning. We know that the regulations on planning and development reform are going to rule out the ability of many groups and many individuals to go to the AAT. I think that is shameful.
We know that Griffith library was just too hard. There was no consultation because the government did not want to hear what it knew would be said. Then there are school closures. That is probably one of the most significant acts that this government has done in its term of office—and that is among a lot of significant acts in terms of the impact on our communities. The principles in the TAMS document and they way they are followed are sorely lacking.
I want to conclude on the Tharwa matter. I have had a consultation with Mr Hargreaves and there is no doubt that the process for the Tharwa bridge started out well. It started out very well: there were good consultations and the Tharwa community turned out almost in its entirety. But something went wrong there. I think that what went wrong was that no body was set up—not a human body—to act as a liaison between government and the community. There were some noticeboards at Tharwa. Everyone goes to the store whether they like it or not; there is a way of communicating with people. But we needed an ongoing process. There are very clearly gaps in the communication. Communication is at least 50 per cent of good governance, in my opinion. The Tharwa community is one that works together; as we can see, it can get quite angry and miffed. Within itself, it probably knows what a good communication process is. There was a lost opportunity in not setting up that liaison group.
In relation to decision making in the ACT, perhaps there is a really good process. I am sure that all the groups are involved as the TAMS diagram suggests, but I believe that their input is not even and that community organisations are missing out.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the