Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 June 2008) . . Page.. 1910 ..
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (2.36): I rise today to add my voice to that of my colleagues on the motion of no confidence. The latest actions of the Chief Minister, his department and his agencies regarding his handling of the Tuggeranong gas-fired power plant project have left the opposition no choice but to exercise its right to censure the Chief Minister and his government over the debacle, and express in the strongest terms possible that his conduct has been utterly unacceptable and that the community ought not to stand for it. Further, the Tuggeranong community remains deeply sceptical about the downscaled data centre project at Macarthur—and I, too, remain deeply sceptical and concerned about that.
The people of Canberra, particularly my own constituents in Brindabella, have again been the subject of derision and contempt by this Chief Minister. The manner in which the minister has personally managed this significant project has been irresponsible and lacked transparency from the outset. A sham consultation process, followed by intentionally misleading the Assembly about his precise role in giving ActewAGL a Hobson’s choice for a viable site, have raised serious questions about the Chief Minister’s capacity to serve in the best interests of this community.
The implications of the Chief Minister’s blind support for the siting of the power plant have raised alarm bells in a number of quarters within the territory. The closure of Griffith library, the ongoing, dragged-out, too-late Tharwa bridge episode, and the wholesale closure of schools without a mandate remain fresh in our collective memories. The community is again at the mercy of the Chief Minister’s next terrible decision.
It must be noted that, despite disagreement with the Chief Minister’s preferred siting of the Tuggeranong gas-fired power station from within his own party, not a single government MLA will have the courage to genuinely represent the people that they purport to represent, and they will not stand up and defy the Chief Minister on this significant issue. All of the government’s MLAs have submitted to the party line so far. I would wager that they are as gutless today as they were when they endorsed ActewAGL’s studies on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 in this place, again on party lines. If you are a Labor MLA, the interests of your own constituents apparently come second to saving political face—face, profits and power before people.
The people of southern Woden should also note the nitpicking, fence-straddling, ghostly position adopted by the independent member for Molonglo, who, unfortunately, too often is too frightened to hold Labor accountable—although I suppose we should at least be pleased for small mercies.
We may well lose this motion today, but the result will in no way diminish the concern that the opposition and the wider Canberra community hold about Mr Stanhope’s deplorable, ram-it-through handling of the Tuggeranong gas-fired power station. The initial sentiment conveyed to me by constituents was one of disbelief and horror that the proposed site for a gas-fired power station would even be conceived by a consortium, sponsored by a territory-owned corporation no less, and then be given tentative approval to submit a development application.
The disbelief turned into anger and bewilderment when it became apparent that a 210-megawatt peaking power station was going to be subject to the same approval