Chapter 9, The Chief Minister Drops the Bundle

Early in 2011 the Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope who was a supporter of the Williamsdale airfield, retired, and his deputy, Katy Gallagher took over as Chief Minister.

As part of the handover, Ms Gallagher was briefed on the airfield proposal.

The CRAA approached Ms Gallagher’s office requesting a meeting, but was told that she was very busy getting on top of the job, and we should approach the relevant minister, Mr Andrew Barr, and get back to them if that was not satisfactory.

Mr Barr refused to discuss the matter and made the negative decision discussed in Chapter 6.

In March of 2012 we were able to talk to Mr Vic Smorhun, a senior advisor to Ms Gallagher.  She was apparently not prepared to talk to us in person.

Mr Smorhun appeared quite intrigued about the proposal in our discussion and promised to get back to us within a couple of weeks.

He didn’t.

When approached he said he would get back to us after the budget.

He didn’t.

We have not heard from him again and he refuses to respond to either emails or phone calls.

So much for consultative government.

On the 4th of June 2012 Chris Price, the original proponent of the airfield wrote this letter to Chief Minister Gallagher, again raising issues of process and propriety within the ACT Government, and received this response.

Ms Gallagher’s chief of staff informed members of the CRAA that she, Ms Gallagher, had been briefed, and presumably that briefing would have included some suggestion that there was opposition within the public service, so Mr Price’s letter should have rung alarm bells.

The very dismissive tone of the reply, almost contemptuous, is simply a failure on her part to do the job she is paid for.

Ms Gallagher was presented with prima facie evidence that there was an issue that required some investigation. 

She had promised to others that there would be consultation on this issue and broke that promise.

It appears that Ms Gallagher has been captured by her public service, and under those circumstances it seems that anything goes.


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