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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 2017) . . Page.. 1578 ..

lazy. Canberrans are not chess pieces to prop up a failing government running out of ideas and quickly running out of time. This policy is destructive and ill conceived. It has dire detrimental consequences.

I am proud to be part of a government which will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to fight decentralisation out of Canberra and to protect and support Canberra’s public sector workers. And I am proud to be part of an Assembly which is united on this.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (3.46): I, too, rise to speak in support of Canberra as our national capital and as the home of the federal parliament and the federal public service. Let me be clear from the outset: the Canberra Liberals are opposed to any proposal to take more public service jobs out of the ACT regardless of whether the proposal is from a coalition government or from a Labor administration.

Canberra was designed and established to be the home of democracy and the capital of Australia. A fundamental part of that is the public service being here in the national capital. It is also important to note that part of the reason for the federal city was to avoid having this debate at all. Having a federal city was meant to remove any doubt about where the federal capital was to be based. Unfortunately, it seems that, despite the courageous and, I think, wise, decision of over 100 years ago, we have not quite escaped that bickering the used to occur between Melbourne and Sydney and other capitals and other colonies.

Before any expense is incurred in relocating or establishing a public service agency outside the ACT and away from the parliament and government, a meaningful process must be undertaken. If the process is fair, if it is objective, I have no doubt that the value of public service agencies being located in Canberra will be proven in a quantitative way.

We Canberra Liberals were vocal in our opposition to the recent relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority from Canberra to Armidale. We expressed our strong views, both publicly and in private, to our federal counterparts.

As well as understanding the impact that decentralisation would have on the ACT economy, we appreciate the likely impact on Canberra’s social fabric as people are forced to move away from their families and their support networks or stay put in Canberra and seek other employment. Either way, it has the potential to be a very tumultuous period. We empathise with the difficult decision that many in the APVMA would have faced as to whether to remain in Canberra or move their career and their family to another city at a time not of their choosing.

We have lobbied hard to ensure that the federal public service remains in the ACT. It is important to note that less than half of the federal public service is located in the capital, but it is a very important component that is located here, and it is a component that is critical for the country but critical for the ACT as well.

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