Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2472 ..
The Stanhope Government’s performance in community consultation.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (3.06): I am very glad I had an OzLotto quick pick tonight; I do not usually win these things.
This speech simply could take the form of a list. The record of the Stanhope Labor government is well known, and community consultation is not one of its strong points. One would need to look very hard to find any strong points. Indeed, the government’s propensity to take a bulldozer approach to decision making has become a hallmark of its utter arrogance—and the community know it. We have seen it time and again, even in this place, when the bulldozer of majority government is fired up in the chamber to close down and stifle debate when the government does not like what it is hearing.
This bulldozer approach, this arrogance, is the single biggest complaint the constituents of all political persuasions make to us, and they make this complaint to us because government simply will not listen to them. I get sick of the number of stories I hear about government ministers who refuse to meet people to discuss issues of concern. It is very rare, I must say—and very concerning to me as a longstanding member in this place—to hear of a minister actually meeting people. That is good, that is what they should do, but it is so very rare you just do not hear it these days—and that, quite frankly, is pathetic.
Just last week we had the case of the public protest rally in Civic Square about the Tuggeranong gas-fired power station, and the best the government could do there was to send an anonymous adviser or two out to observe proceedings. The Chinese embassy do that with Falun Gong, and Mugabe sort of does more than that in terms of some of the things they do over there. That is not appropriate. No member of the government had the guts to face public opinion on this issue.
This government has forgotten that it is here to serve, to deliver, the needs of the people of the ACT. But how can a government deliver if it does not know what those needs are and it will not listen? The government’s arrogance—its attitude of “we know better than you” or “we will deliver what we think you need”—is what will bring this government undone in October this year. And it this arrogance, this high-horse attitude, that has caused this government to fail the people of Canberra.
What is the government’s response to that? Because this government has no answers, because it has no understanding of the needs and aspirations of the community, and because it thinks it can ride roughshod over that community, its only way out is to respond in desperation, and the government of course seeks to divert attention away from the real issues.
Recently, we saw the Chief Minister’s apparently futile attempt to somehow draw the home address of my colleague Mr Seselja into a debate over the gas-fired power station. For what purpose? Does he hope these kinds of claims will magically change the entire news cycle? They might get a minute or so, but that is about it. The focus of the media and the people of Canberra is sharply on this government’s failures, and will remain so because these failures are so obvious and are becoming more and more obvious every day.