Page 1253 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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When you get 200 or 300 Canberra people in a room together, they prove that they are very intelligent and thoughtful people who really want to contribute to decisions made by the government. They really want to shape the ACT. They are full of optimism; they are full of love for the place. Their ideas were extremely useful, even though they had to be “essentialised” down to a couple of key words, which was very frustrating for some, because, of course, issues are far more complex than that.

I attended the education workshop and there was a large amount of agreement in that group. There were other workshops on education as well. It is interesting to see how they all meshed. I also went to a workshop on sustainable Canberra or future Canberra. Again, it was really good to see the way people’s ideas meshed. There was nobody who was there to obstruct. Maybe there was in one workshop I heard about where I think they talked about recycling water for half an hour. It certainly would not have happened in the workshops that I went to, where people were really outcomes focused and wanted the best for Canberra.

So more of these conversations, Mr Chief Minister; Canberra people are ready to contribute.

Legislative Assembly—Liberal Party

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations (6.07): In question time, I alluded to what is possibly Canberra’s most serious skills shortage, that being the one on the benches occupied by the Liberal opposition. That skills crisis is evidenced by the lack of policy that is coming forward from the other side of the chamber.

So dire is that skills crisis that yesterday we learnt from the Canberra Times that the Young Liberals, for which I understand the Leader of the Opposition may still qualify, had pictures of their one-time one and only policy formulator, Mr Richard Mulcahy, on their website. And so dire is it that today the tiny Tories have replaced Mr Mulcahy with that other great Liberal policy man—the man who gave us Work Choices, the war in Iraq and core and non-core promises—the former Prime Minister, John Howard.

The skills crisis experienced by those opposite is also evidenced by the Liberal leader’s public cry for help in today’s Canberra Times. Perhaps those opposite think that they are copying the very successful Kevin 07 campaign from last year. But we would all recall that, as opposition leader, Mr Rudd introduced himself with the words “My name is Kevin; I am from Queensland; I am here to help.” I am sure that Mr Rudd would be flattered by Mr Seselja’s ham-fisted attempt at mimicry, but the key difference with Mr Seselja’s campaign is that it is he who is crying out for help.

As Minister for Education and Training, it saddens me to see that there is such a skills shortage in the ACT Liberals. Of course, your natural instinct is to want to do something about it. As Minister for Education and Training, I am seeking to work locally and nationally on the skills shortage that is the legacy of 11 years of

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