Page 2480 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 1 July 2008

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Mr Gentleman: “A little more action.”

MR STANHOPE: That’s exactly right—a little less conversation, a little more action. That was the Liberal Party theme at the last election. They were concerned that we were consulting too much; that we had developed the Canberra plan and the spatial plan and the economic white paper and that we had gone to enormous lengths to consult on all the constituent parts of those plans and that vision. That led the Liberal Party at the last election to campaign on the theme that this government talks too much; this government consults too much; this government engages in too much conversation. “In future, could we have a little less conversation?” Mr Smyth asked on behalf of the Liberal Party at the last election. It is amazing!

Just four years ago in another election campaign or context, the Liberal Party’s election theme and election song backing up Mr Smyth was Elvis Presley and A Little Less Conversation. They wanted a little less conversation; they wanted a little less consultation; they wanted more action, they said. We ought to just reflect on the fact that the Liberal Party went to one election asking for a little less conversation and a little more action. I must say that the people of Canberra responded mightily when they invested in us. They voted on that occasion like their lives depended on it. They voted for me and my colleagues.

We have seen today a good amount of eye rolling and drum beating by Mr Stefaniak about the fact that we do not consult. They stand here today, at the depths of their hypocritical souls, arguing against the evidence that the government does not consult. There is enormous evidence of the extent to which the government consults, and Mr Stefaniak has given wonderful focus and attention to the extent to which we do consult through his one and only significant example today—namely, Macgregor. That issue was consulted on and consulted on: two major public meetings attended by significant numbers of residents and a whole planning study done.

As we move on to another election campaign, it is relevant that the theme has changed from a little less conversation, a little more action to: “Look, we tried that last time, it didn’t work. We are trying a different approach and a different attack this time round in the election campaign. We’ll forget the mantra and the song from the last election and we’ll try this new approach. We’ll just basically concoct examples where there was significant consultation but where we have identified some people who were not particularly happy with the outcome of that.” As Mr Stefaniak himself said, there will always be someone that is most particularly affected or most particularly concerned. In the nature of life in a metropolis, in a city, one of the great and difficult issues is to balance the competing needs and the competing ideas of the entire community.

Unfortunately, there are decisions that have a disproportionate impact on some, but they are decisions that are taken in the interests of the community. Governments, of course, govern for the entire community, and governments must make decisions from time to time that have a disproportionate impact. It is a pity; it is to be regretted. But more often than not it is unavoidable in relation to issues around, for instance, the noise impacts of road location. That is something that governments grapple with all the time. We had it with the GDE—the need to build a major piece of road

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