Page 80 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 10 February 2015

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MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (4.16): Thanks to Mr Coe for bringing this motion on for debate today. At least in the text of this motion we can probably agree that consultation is crucial to good government and crucial to good community representation. If through this motion Mr Coe is sending a message to the Liberal Prime Minister that it is time for him to come through on all his promises of more consultation with the community, then we can probably agree on that too.

We in the ACT government are proud of our inclusive approach to government, one which encourages the involvement of our community more than ever. I am happy to discuss this record in my community of Belconnen, in my newly gained ministerial portfolios and in other areas such as planning and infrastructure investment. We have embraced the possibilities of digital technology. We have created more transparency through which the Canberra community can engage with all aspects of government. We believe in ongoing, sincere, meaningful and constructive consultation, listening to people and feeding their views into the governing process.

This is despite the negativity that comes from across the chamber, where consultation often means opportunism, misrepresentation, suspicion and disunity. It is their opposition not just to government but also to the clear wishes of our community—for example, their opposition to marriage equality, their opposition to the strong action to grow renewable energy and to address climate change. More often than not it is also policy free with no alternatives, just negativity. It is hard to have a meaningful policy debate with this type of opposition.

Nonetheless, the government is pressing ahead with a far-reaching policy platform, including areas of my portfolio where consultation is so important. Just last week I had a long conversation with a local man called Sam while selling the Big Issue with him in Dickson along with the Chief Minister. He shared some very thought out and valuable views on public housing and services in Canberra. It is one of the many conversations I am having in the housing and community services sector and just a taste of the ongoing consultation which guides the government’s work in these areas.

As I have said since becoming minister, it is vital that our approach is about talking with people and not talking at them. This is how we are approaching the task in housing and community services. In housing there is a very extensive program of consultation rolling out for ACT Housing tenants along Northbourne Avenue and the ABC flats around the government’s plans for redevelopment and what it means for the tenants who live there.

I have already taken a couple of trips to ACT Housing properties. I have been impressed by the work which is happening. This has included joining with tenants at Owen flats for a get-together that they have every two weeks. It is run for the government by the Northside Community Service to make sure that they are kept up to date.

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