Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 6 August 2015) . . Page.. 2481 ..
Here we have a school that was deliberately kept in the dark about losing their tennis courts, a school whose principal was forbidden by this government to advise her school community of what was happening. We have a childcare centre that has successfully delivered a popular and affordable service to generations of Canberra families for over 50 years but was told that it would have to move even though the government knew or should have reasonably known that not-for-profit community organisations such as Mocca could not afford to rebuild. We have a services club who perhaps was the only entity in this debacle to have been spoken with. They told members last year that they had a new site to build on and that it involved a land swap.
When a minister, albeit a Greens minister, also starts to question the lack of information exchange and the poor public consultation process, you know the system is clearly not working. The Chief Minister told the estimates committee that when circumstances change he reserves the right to change his mind. But in relation to Telopea Park School, the only circumstances that changed were because he decided to change them. The school did not want to lose their tennis courts. Mocca did not ask for a new childcare centre. Yes, the Services Club was keen to rebuild their club but were they demanding to move to another site, and what conversation did they have with government about moving Mocca out?
The disruption to parents and the Mocca community about where they will go and whether the association will even survive has been traumatic and damaging. It is not how governments should treat community organisations. Why were Mocca not considered worthy to receive proper and informed discussion about changes to zonings and repurposing of the land they have occupied for over 50 years without complaint? Why were they not provided with an opportunity before it became almost a done deal to look for or consider alternative options? It was only after the community decided they were not going to take it quietly that things started to change late, but better late than never. I would like to think my intervention with Mr Rattenbury prompted him to take notice, because he, too, has realised that community consultation has been poor and that the whole matter has not been well managed.
This lack of consultation is no better demonstrated than in the FOI request that Telopea Park School P&C president lodged on 7 May this year with the Chief Minister’s own directorate. As we know, response to an FOI must be given within 30 days or an extension to that must be sought by agreement and notification to the requester. Yesterday I was advised that the P&C president is yet to hear a word—no response, no explanation, no request for a delay. While my recent FOI requests to the Education and Training Directorate have delivered almost nothing and were late, I at least got a reply. That same courtesy has not been extended to the Telopea Park community, and they deserve an apology and an explanation. If that is the standard of consultation being delivered by the Chief Minister’s own directorate, it does not say much for the level of respect and interest in community views.
We see the same accusations being made by Griffith residents about not being consulted. They have learned through the media that an alternative site in Griffith was being considered for a childcare centre. Is that an alternative location for Mocca? Hill