Page 3709 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

that were made at the time to fund two-thirds of any future costs relating to this issue. Instead, what this community got from the Liberal Party at the federal level, announced by a press release, was a concessional loan.

While the ACT has the unfortunate lion’s share of the Mr Fluffy legacy, with 1,022 houses across 56 established suburbs, this is also a legacy that spreads into surrounding New South Wales. To attempt to conduct an inquiry into this issue without the full cooperation of the commonwealth and New South Wales governments risks seeing an undertaking that is doomed from the start. Given the commonwealth’s recent record on this issue, I am not prepared to risk a failed process that will be derailed by legal argument on jurisdiction. This is one point where our being a territory matters.

Undertaking this inquiry in a way which does this issue justice will involve a significant financial and resource commitment that will run into tens of millions of dollars. I am not sure that that point has been particularly well understood by everyone involved in this discussion so far. Let us be clear: the government is not prepared to contemplate an inquiry that is not equipped and able to tell the whole story, because to do so would be reckless, simplistic and, most significantly, disrespectful to all those who have been touched by this issue. The government will also not agree to impose artificial deadlines such as an election date on an issue as complex and important as this one is. I think we would all note that similar inquiries in other jurisdictions never adhere to deadlines set by governments and tend to extend well beyond that time—also, I note, increasing costs.

The government is resolute in its view that the critical work of the task force in delivering the scheme cannot be distracted by the need to support or respond to an inquiry. Without downplaying the significance of the story that needs to be told, I believe the best thing that can happen for affected families and for the wider Canberra community is that we get on now with the demolition and rebuilding phase of the scheme. It is through this work that our community will be renewed as one without loose-fill asbestos.The government has consistently maintained that there should be and that there will be a formal inquiry into the Mr Fluffy issue. I will raise with the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales the issue of a proper inquiry into the legacy of Mr Fluffy and seek their support for a wide-ranging, comprehensive but, importantly, properly resourced process that looks at all aspects of the history of the issue that led the ACT government to make the decision it did last year and that led our New South Wales counterparts to make the decision they did a few months ago.

We owe it to the people whose lives have been most disrupted to do this properly. We owe it to them to have a comprehensive, robust inquiry into what happened and why; and what, if anything, we might learn from that story.

The motion moved today by Mr Hanson will not deliver a comprehensive or robust inquiry. That is why we are seeking to amend it. Frankly, it would be a shame for Mr Hanson to seek to undo the bipartisanship that has been central to this place’s response to the crisis through this motion and some of the unfortunate comments in his earlier contribution, which appear to be all about politics.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video