Page 3602 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 25 August 2009

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MRS DUNNE: I therefore seek leave to make a statement in the form of acquainting the house with the contents of the petition.

Leave not granted.

MRS DUNNE: I will do it in the adjournment debate.

Community consultation

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Burch): Mr Speaker has received letters from Ms Bresnan, Ms Burch, Mr Coe, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Ms Hunter, Ms Le Couteur, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Mr Smyth be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

Community consultation in the ACT.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.53): Madam Assistant Speaker, community consultation is very important to the people of the ACT, and, indeed, its approach to community consultation represents perhaps one of the major failings of the Stanhope-Gallagher government. Prior to the 2001 election, the commitment by the then Leader of the Opposition, Jon Stanhope, was that his government would be open and accountable. Indeed, the words “more honest, more open and more accountable” were often said. He said in his documents that ACT Labor believes that responsible governments are open and accountable. Now, that is the theory. The question is: what is the reality? The reality is that we have a litany of consultation failures from all of the ministry, whether it be Mr Barr on schools, Mr Corbell on ESA commissioner arrangements, Ms Gallagher on Calvary, the Chief Minister on so many things, and, indeed, the master of no consultation, Mr Hargreaves, on everything from library closures to pulling down heritage-listed bridges. This litany of consultation failures culminated in the latest fiasco—the fringe festival.

This history of failure to consult with the community led to the Stanhope-Gallagher government putting in place a consultation project to make government consultation more consultative. What did they do with the outcomes of that consultation process? They ignored it. It is very hard to actually work out what the outcomes from this project were. We can find information on the website of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services headed “Citizen centred governance—summary report of submission”. It is a very brief report. It talks about the background, key themes and recent developments. But it hardly gives anyone any confidence that the government has actually taken into account what has happened here and at the same time implemented openness and accountability. You only have to look at the time frame to know that the government has had no commitment to citizen-centred governance and no commitment to more openness and accountability. There is no commitment.

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