Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 27 June 2008) . . Page.. 2278 ..
Again I thank members for their contributions to the debate and look forward to continuing with Mr Seselja in this spirit of bipartisanship to ensure that we have an effective planning system for the territory. I do acknowledge that probably 99 per cent of the time, apart from the odd jibe that I will just put down to politics, Mr Seselja has played a constructive role in this process, and that is important. I simply make the observation that in many of these debates on planning Dr Foskey attacks the government from the left and Mr Seselja and the Liberals attack the government from the right. That probably means that we have got the balance about right.
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (5.37): I would like to add to some of the things that have been said this evening in regard to Peter and Jenni Farrell, the former occupants of the caretaker’s cottage on Cotter Road, Weston Creek. I became involved in this case, very sceptically at the beginning. I, too, perhaps like many members—and I have discussed this openly with the Farrells—had the opinion, “You have had this so good for so long.” Mr Mulcahy would probably be cheering from the rafters now as I am saying it. However, all is not as it seems.
I actually did send around to all members the chronology of events from 1982 in terms of what had happened in relation to Peter and Jenni Farrell. These people are decent human beings and they have been portrayed as no more than second-class citizens by Mr Barr and Mr Mulcahy. There are a few things that I will touch on.
How can somebody be a squatter when, firstly, they are given the keys? Mr Barr can argue the point on that all he wants. If that was what was contained in that letter, I accept that but that is an omission by the Farrells, I am sure. Why? On the day that they were ceremoniously evicted, they, with great grace and dignity, I might add—and I was in the room and watched it; they held their dignity and did it with great grace—handed over the original key that they were given in 1982 by a forestry worker. They did not need the key because, as Mr Barr rightly says, all the windows were smashed.
I am talking to these people more and more; they have got reams of information about the history of the place. And their driving passion has actually been to make sure that over 80 years of history does not get bulldozed into the ground. I applaud them for that. I think the community have also come out, and we have seen petitions tabled in this place, and supported them wholeheartedly—people from all walks of life, from everywhere in Canberra. Once people know the truth, the facts and the full story of how Peter and Jenni Farrell, over successive governments, tried to get a proper, established tenancy, people will need to think twice about what they have said detrimentally about Peter and Jenni Farrell.
Also how can people be squatters when utilities are made available on the property? The electricity was turned on; the water was turned on. There was sewerage. In fact, they were very near, as people will know, to the old sewerage works there anyway, to the sewerage lines.
I think the picture that has been portrayed is very disingenuous, just being able to say, “They are just scum; we can get rid of them. They have squatted. They have done this.