Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2591..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
we are looking at changing regimes, particularly over the counter, is the close proximity of Queanbeyan with here. So I have asked to be informed about how the New South Wales process is going—when they look like finishing and what they look like they are going to do. But, as I said, I am still committed to point-of-sale display bans, but I think how we get there and when we get there is the issue that I need to look at further.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, on Monday, 30 June you were quoted in the Canberra Times as saying that it was cheaper to send a team to Britain to recruit child protection staff than run a national campaign. You said, "Over here we can spend $15,000 recruiting, putting advertisements in every national paper and not get one applicant."
Minister, the opposition has been made aware of senior Australian social workers, highly experienced in child protection and related areas, being told by your department not to bother applying for positions or being told they "do not meet the criteria". Approximately how many applications for positions in child protection have you received from Canberra-based and other Australian-based applicants each time you have undertaken to advertise locally for these positions? How many have been rejected, and why?
MS GALLAGHER: I am interested in the question because the underlying insinuation is that we have a store of locally available people well qualified and suitable for the positions that we are refusing to employ. That is the question in a sense, shorter and more succinct than the question Mr Smyth asked. That is the argument that I understand he is now putting forward—that we have an abundance or even one or two or three staff here locally that are prepared to work and we are refusing them.
They are pretty serious allegations to lay at the feet of the department. It is very similar to an argument that Mrs Burke ran, probably a year ago or maybe a bit longer; I cannot keep up with the changes in portfolios. I believe that Mrs Burke was the shadow spokesperson for children and young people at one stage and she ran a similar argument—that there were people that were willing to be employed and ready to be employed and were refused employment—
Mrs Burke: It is true. Are you saying we are liars? Is that what you are saying?
MS GALLAGHER: I am just saying that it is an interesting line to run. Recruitment is handled in accordance with legislation and proper process and merit based processes, yet you are saying that those processes are not working. Maybe these people have been for an interview with Mrs Burke and she has given them the thumbs up, but that is a bit different from the process that has to be undertaken in government. Maybe Mr Smyth has given them the thumbs up, too. I do not know. I do not know who you are talking to. We have had a constant, ongoing recruitment program nationally in care and protection. I think for the last national recruitment program we ran we did not get one applicant from across the country. From memory, that is correct.