Page 1002 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 25 February 2009

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(2) calls on the Government to:

(a) immediately conduct an appropriate planning study, in consultation with the community, before block 8, section 34 Hawker is sold; and

(b) complete the planning study and table it in the Legislative Assembly by the last sitting day in August 2009.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines consultation as “a meeting arranged to consult”. The dictionary further defines the verb “consult” as “to seek information or advice or to refer to a person for advice or an opinion”. This is generally understood to be the process of consultation. It is certainly what the business owners and community people associated with Hawker understood by the process of consultation. However, the government will have its own dictionary definition and the government’s definition of consultation is planting a sign in the ground—just planting a sign in the ground.

Last week I received a number of phone calls—regrettably a communication method that prevents me from tabling any substantial paper evidence such as the Chief Minister might demand—from concerned business owners at the Hawker group centre. On the back of these calls I visited those and other concerned business owners in the Hawker group centre over Friday and Monday this week. Again, the situation of my conversations with those people prevents me tabling that in the Assembly as the Chief Minister might demand.

Their concern was over a sign that had recently been planted on block 8, section 34 of Hawker, indicating that the block was to be auctioned for development on 18 March. My understanding is that the sign went up the Monday before last or sometime over that weekend. More importantly, their concern was that they had not been consulted.

Here is the dichotomy that exists between the government’s definition of consultation and the common man definition of consultation. On the one hand we have all the notions of talking, discussion, seeking advice and opinions and meeting with people, and on the other hand we have the government’s approach, which is planting a sign in the ground.

If this is the government’s notion of consultation in the new Seventh Assembly where things will be done differently, I have got news for the government. The advice and the opinions given to me by business owners and community members at Hawker, which they consider to be the primary element of consultation, is that they would like to have an opportunity to discuss with the government its plans for their group centre. It is their centre. It is the centre of their livelihood. It is where they conduct their businesses and their community activities. It is where their customers go to do their shopping. It is their local community. It is their local church.

It has a range of professional services. It is a place for engagement. It is a place for sporting and social entertainment. Business owners at the Hawker group centre tell me that critical to the access to their group centre and therefore to the businesses that go on there is access to parking. This is a vibrant centre which many people use because

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