Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 September 2017) . . Page.. 4010 ..
What we have now, it seems, is more of a drive-in, drive-out operation than what was actually promised some time ago. It is no wonder that so many people are disappointed. And it seems that Minister Fitzharris has learnt from Mr Barr a resentment for the Assembly, a resentment for motions and a resentment for questions, and there is a passive aggression that is demonstrated in her speeches. She repeatedly tries to patronise people. I think it is unbecoming of this place. I think the number of times that the minister mentioned Mr Milligan in her speech is indicative of the passive aggression.
Further to this, the cost of the project has been extraordinary. There is no doubt about that. To spend so much money on this project and still not deliver on the original expectation is pretty damning. It is an embarrassment. The opportunity cost in time and in money is enormous. If the original scope of the project was what is now being delivered, surely this could have been done years ago. Why did it take 10 years? It is not a residential facility. It has not got a clinical model of care. What has been the delay for 10 years? Why was this not done in a year or two? It really is an embarrassment and it is very disappointing, I know, for many in the Indigenous community.
The opposition, through this motion, is calling on the government to finally deliver on what they promised about a decade ago, and this should not be an unreasonable request.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (5.01): It was only a couple of months ago that we were having a very similar discussion in this place about the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm. As I said at that time, this facility has been a long time coming and the process to get to this point has not been as smooth as it might have been. Everybody who has spoken today has made that observation in various ways. Representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community raised a number of completely valid frustrations, and Minister Fitzharris has rightly apologised for the confusion the government caused in relation to the purpose and scope of the facility. I think it is right that she did that, and I welcome the fact that she was very up front in making that apology.
Fast forward to last week and the minister announced to the Assembly that the bush healing farm has officially opened and will soon be providing care and support for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The bush healing farm has been described as a place of healing where people will feel safe and supported by their traditional custodians, community leaders, elders and respected role models. It is designed to help people make changes that can break the cycle of drug and alcohol dependency.
These are all important goals and the current model represents a starting point for the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm. However, it is also important to remember that the model of care can, and must, evolve over time to better meet the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.