The double sitting week has clearly got to Canberra’s political representatives in the Legislative Assembly, with some mid-sitting snot and slogans failing to get the pace rolling today in Question Time.
Starting with business service delivery and a sideways trip to superannuation, the chamber blew their noses and moved on to Naplan, OH&S prosecution, a second public hospital in the city’s north, toxic building materials, disability education workers as potential victims of an efficiency dividend and a few ACT economy dixers.
All in all, it was not ripping stuff.
The highlight for me was the Liberal Party’s response to Labor Minister Andrew Barr’s accusations they were “cat calling”.
They made loud noises like cats.
I’m not kidding.
Greens Leader Meredith Hunter asked Barr about the education gap demonstrated by Canberra’s indigenous students’ poor Naplan performance and the Minister pointed to the size of our Territory’s cohort in that demographic.
Labor MLA Mary “Biohazard” Porter croaked out a delighful Dorothy Dixer about the state of the ACT economy, allowing Treasurer Katy Gallagher to praise, at length, her party’s handling of the GFC at both a Federal and Territory level – based on CommSec’s latest “State of the States” report.
Gallagher and Opposition Deputy Brendan Smyth clashed over analysis of the report, but it was surprisingly the mild mannered Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur who caused the most debate today over her question on work safety reform.
“What guarantees can the Government give that, in the event of breaches of OH&S legislation in the ACT, that all prosecutions of breaches would take place promptly, competantly and impartially?” Le Couteur asked.
Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne immediately lept to inform the Speaker of her concerns that this was a slur on the judiciary and “sailing close to the wind”.
Gallagher assured the chamber that for once she was “in solidarity with the Opposition” with her “complete faith in the DPP” before becoming embroiled in yet another hospital debate with Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson.
Referring to an interview on ABC local radio station 666, Hanson questioned Gallagher’s references to the option of building a second public hospital in Canberra’s north.
Gallagher said in response to his queries that a new hospital is indeed on the cards, with costs to be in excess of a billion dollars and a decision to be made within the five months till the next Budget.
By the time the Greens had finished with Barr over sustainable building materials and schools and the Steve Doszpot had grilled Barr again on funding cuts to the provision of education for disabled Canberrans, John Hargreaves was up and demanding detailed information from Simon Corbell on the state of our city’s bushfire preparation.
“Don’t leave it to the last moment,” Corbell said. Indeed.