Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 August 2017) . . Page.. 2286 ..
deem to be sensible people. Unsurprisingly, sensible people in such instances nearly always end up being people who conveniently already agree with the government.
This discussion helps to highlight why the Canberra Liberals and so many of our fellow Canberrans were disturbed by the development earlier this year when Chief Minister Andrew Barr decided that Clubs ACT, which represents 70 per cent of the territory’s clubs, no longer comprises sensible people; though l think his exact words were that it is “a wreckage and a joke”. This means that, conveniently, the ACT government, including Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay, no longer even need to pretend that they are willing to listen to people who disagree with them.
Of course, this is one small part of the entire ACT community, but it makes me personally worried. If the Chief Minister is willing to openly write off an entire organisation because they have dared to disagree with him, what does that suggest about the rest of the consultations that the ACT government still wishes to engage in?
The government has created a number of consultative bodies that are supposed to represent various segments of the territory’s population, but how are we to know whether these hand-picked bodies are the “mini publics” that they need to be in order to be truly representative? In fact, in recent weeks I have spoken to members and former members of various consultative bodies in the ACT who have expressed concern to me that they have been—to repeat the very word that one used— “shackled” in their responsibilities to speak out. They know that they, in essence, belong to the government and that there are things that the government simply does not want to hear.
This kind of consultation has been labelled by The Australian Collaboration as mere tokenism. At a minimum, it decreases community interest in consultation, and it can also result in community anger and frustration. What is necessary for good governance here in the ACT is not ministers refusing to listen to people, and it is not the tokenism of sham consultation with hand-picked representatives either. In order to set the stage for the development of this territory over the next several years, all of us, and especially those who form the government’s executive, need to be willing to listen to real people. And by listen I mean really listen, which means that, through consultation, decisions will be reshaped for the better, not shaped to satisfy or protect the decision-makers.
Not one of us in this chamber is an expert at everything. The best check on our collective lack of expertise is to listen to those who deeply care about this community and have something to say. The Canberra Liberals value the involvement of ordinary people. We encourage the people of this beautiful city to take ownership of it and not let the few make all the decisions for them. And we hope that those who have been elected to lead will act with integrity.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (3.59): The ACT government is firmly committed to open and consultative democracy. During the election, we made it clear