Page 784 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013

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That is an extraordinary way to do business, Madam Speaker. We have seen other examples around Australia. For example, the Gold Coast light rail system is costing the Queensland government about $20 million to $30 million a year to operate. That is on top of about $1 billion that it cost in construction. When we look at examples of where this is being done elsewhere, we can see the price tag going up and up. It gets to a point where it is simply not affordable but what this government is saying is that it will deliver it at any cost. It is not a cost to it. It is a cost to the community and it is a cost to ACT taxpayers.

At the election campaign we saw three Greens lose their seats here, but what we are seeing now is the price of keeping this Green in government is a cost that is going to be borne by ACT taxpayers for years to come.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (10.16): The government will oppose this motion. From just a quick glance at the daily program today, all the Liberal motions show a party that still has not come to terms with the fact that they have lost four elections in a row. We are opposing this motion today not because the government shies away from embracing the importance of progressive and environmentally responsible policies and programs—to the contrary. We believe valuing our physical environment does not go hand in hand with ignoring responsible economic and fiscal management.

Good government means leading; it means resisting the easy and the convenient. And the hallmark of good leadership is embracing the difficult, the hard road and mapping out a clear way forward. It means investing in the long term; it means thinking to the future; it means investing in relationships; it means embracing hard truths. This motion is, sadly, a foolish, ill-advised piece of empty posturing from the new Leader of the Opposition, and it should be seen as such this morning.

The new Leader of the Opposition has the responsibility to hold the government of the day to account. But in exercising his responsibilities he should avoid resorting to glib, half-baked assertions and exaggeration and instead should focus genuinely—

Mr Coe: Glib assertions, like “green” and “progressive”?

MS GALLAGHER: Well, we live in hope. And I acknowledge that Mr Hanson was heard in silence, Madam Speaker. I am one minute into my speech and I am being constantly interjected upon by Mr Coe—again.

Mr Hanson should focus on making a contribution to the quality of debate in the ACT’s political discourse. To ACT Labor, “progressive” is something to be proud of, not something to be ashamed of or, indeed, as Mr Hanson is attempting to do, demonised. No doubt it was considered extreme and radical when the notion of abolishing slavery was first raised or when progressive thinkers first advanced the idea of giving women the right to vote, recognising Indigenous Australians, or decriminalising homosexuality. These were progressive, positive moves that secured the freedom of many and helped to put us on a pathway towards a more equal and fair society.

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