Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 2017) . . Page.. 1587 ..
MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (4.17): I appreciate Ms Cheyne moving this motion today and giving this Assembly another chance to consider the importance of the Australian public service to Canberra and to Australia as a whole. Many Canberrans are rightly worried for the future of our city. They worry about their jobs, and they worry about their family’s future above all else. These are uncertain times. The decentralisation agenda and the Canberra-bashing are right to give Canberrans pause.
The decentralisation agenda being pushed by the federal Liberal government is simply a bad idea. It is bad public policy. It is bad for Australia and it is bad for Canberra. We thought we had seen the worst of it with the relocation of the APVMA, but here we are. Despite the fact that the large majority of the staff did not want to relocate, despite the warnings from industry stakeholders and despite the warnings from their independent advisers—Ernst & Young, of course—the Liberals proceeded with this foolish and haphazard plan to move the APVMA.
Now we hear from the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, that decentralisation is core business for the Liberal national government. We have heard that the Liberal government will now force all federal departments to justify their continued presence in Canberra. If they fail to do so, they will be forced to move to rural or regional Australia. That is right; all federal departments are on notice. Most of the time, when you try to justify a significant policy change, the onus is on you to demonstrate the benefits to the country for why you should proceed. But when it comes to pork-barrelling—in Liberal and National regional seats, of course—it would appear that no expense can be spared.
I am a member for Yerrabi. I proudly represent the residents of Gungahlin and eastern Belconnen in this place. Caught up in this mess of decentralisation is the promise from the Liberal national government to bring a federal department or agency to Gungahlin. We were told to expect more detail in the budget. Well, the budget has come and there is no detail. The people of Gungahlin want a department in their town centre. They were promised a department in their town centre. It appears, however, that promises do not count for much if you are talking about Canberra.
I would also like to thank Ms Cheyne for drawing attention to the—I am almost hesitant to say it—ignorant and malicious comments some of the less informed commentators make about our great city. Some of the comments cited in the motion itself refer to an article by Miranda Devine, a long-time columnist for the Daily Telegraph. I had to go and have a read of the article in question; I do not make a habit of reading such publications and columns of that nature. What strikes me about this article is not the negative comments about our city but some of the more glowing things she has to say about Canberra. The article starts by stating:
There’s something seriously wrong with Australia when Canberra is our fastest growing town, boasting the highest wages, near record job growth—
She goes on to discuss how Canberra is a “cashed-up boom town on steroids, with cranes all over the skyline, boasting the highest paid citizens” in Australia. I have to say it is hard to take these comments as anything but an endorsement of the