Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 2017) . . Page.. 1584 ..
the Institute for Research and Action in Public Health, the Crawford School of Public Policy, the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, the Centre for Gambling Research, and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling among many more, all targeted towards designing better outcomes in public policy.
From the time our students leave these world-class institutions, they are immersed in the world of public policy in one form or another. Our graduates and those graduates who arrive here from elsewhere quickly learn detailed administration tasks, such as the application process for the approval of active constituents and registration of Agvet chemical products, as our recently relocated friends at the APVMA do. They develop an understanding of how the various elements of departments, parliament and government combine to pass policy into law, and they begin to implement it, and it may seem at times that our graduates quickly acquire the ability to construct full sentences using acronyms, a very special skill.
The specialist knowledge our public servants develop is learned and expanded upon from the time one enters the public service to the time they retire. Most public servants will know at least one old hand who took the entrance exam straight out of school and has devoted their entire working life to the service. These individuals can recount countless tales of their time in that service. The stories they share may be lost on some people as forlorn nostalgia, however, they serve an incredibly important purpose: they provide context, understanding, and history to public policy and the process of government, the kind of background that, if listened to, prevents the mistake the federal government is so eager to make with its decentralisation policy.
It is this shared experience, this shared knowledge, that a purpose-built capital creates and that enables a specialist workforce that is actively engaged in improving the lives of all Australians. Carving departments and agencies out of Canberra and planting them in marginal electorates destroys this interconnectedness. It destroys Canberra’s capacity to be part of meaningful reform and outcomes that can take Australia forward.
Canberra is not just the national capital; it is the apparatus which facilitates the ongoing running of the country. It is an island of faithful public servants, sharing stories and experiences that can further progress public policy outcomes. It is a network of public sector professionals charged with the day-to-day running of the country. To attack Canberra is to attack the provision of essential services to Australians everywhere. To slice it up willingly is to willingly deny Australians the best services we can offer. To carry on decentralising agencies away from it is to ensure we as a nation go backwards.
I again thank Ms Cheyne for moving this motion and implore the Assembly to support it because decentralisation is not the stuff of sound government, but the failed policy of a misguided government.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.10): It is a pleasure to speak in support of this motion brought forward by Ms Cheyne in defence of Canberra’s role as the national capital and particularly the recognition of the national capital as a hub for federal political service. Canberra, of course, is home to the bulk of the Australian Public Service workforce for good reason. As the national capital, Canberra is uniquely