Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 November 2015) . . Page.. 4056 ..
I made the point in the annual report hearings that there is a place for community councils as a form of community engagement, but that was only one form and it could not be the only form. Mrs Jones hit on a very important point in her speech, observing that, from her own experience raising a young family, it was not always easy to get to meetings. That was the exact point that I made in my comments to the committee. The times are not family friendly—
Mr Hanson interjecting—
MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Order, members!
MR BARR: I quote from Hansard:
It is incredibly important that community engagement is more reflective of the community at large. That means, in particular, there is a need to find new ways to engage with working age families who, for obvious reasons, will not be attending public meetings during dinner time or putting-the-kids-to-bed time, and younger people who have no interest in hanging out in those sorts of meeting environments but who want to engage with government in different ways.
There is a real need—and I repeat this—to broaden consultation. I make the point, as I did in the annual report hearings, that there is a place for community councils, but it is not the only form and it should not be the only form.
Ms Lawder made an interesting observation in her comments about the issue of engagement with the Tuggeranong Community Council about a road closure. It was very clear from that process that just engaging with the community council was not sufficient. That reinforces the point that I made in annual report hearings and that I will continue to make. Yes there is a role for community councils, but they are not representative; they are not elected by the community at large. They are elected by members of that community council. That is not necessarily reflective of the entire community in the way that this place is, where everyone over the age of 18 who is eligible to enrol to vote and who casts a vote gets to vote for members of this place. This place is far more representative than a community council will ever be, and that is as it should be.
Mr Doszpot interjecting—
MR BARR: It is important, and I repeat this for Mr Doszpot so that he will stop interjecting, that consultation must adapt—it simply has to—to people’s changing preferences for how they engage with government. It does not mean scrapping old forms of consultation, but it means being open to new ways. How about that? Open to something new, Mr Doszpot. How about that? Why do we not do that? Why do we not acknowledge the community councils that are doing just that? For example, Belconnen Community Council’s involvement in the Belconnen master plan process involved multiple forms of communication to reach out to members of the community who would not or could not attend a public meeting.