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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1777..


MR RATTENBURY (continuing):

The action plan puts the spotlight on a number of examples. One we put in there is Jenny, which is not her real name but is a real example. Jenny lives in rental accommodation, works part time and has sole responsibility for her young child, while her ex-husband lives in the matrimonial home. Jenny cannot afford a private lawyer, does not qualify for legal aid and has no prospect of securing the property settlement she is entitled to. Jenny is just one example of someone who has fallen through the gaps in our legal system.

There are a number of possible initiatives to help close the gap. Our action plan particularly identifies investment in community legal centres as a strategic option that can be implemented locally by the ACT government. Investment in community legal centres is a smart use of public funds, as not only will it allow greater access to lawyers but it is also an investment in education and preventive programs that can reduce how often people actually end up needing to take their issues to court.

As I said, it is a five-point action plan. Actions 1 and 2 represent the most immediate needs of community legal centres and include securing funding for the Women's Legal Centre Indigenous liaison officer and address the urgent short-term accommodation issues the community legal centres face, which at the most basic level prevent them accepting offers of pro bono work from private lawyers for the simple reason there is not enough physical space for them to do that pro bono work in. Actions 3 to 5 set up an integrated long-term strategy to be rolled out over multiple budgets. These actions are sequential and are required to quantify unmet legal need and then fund and house community legal centres to help them meet that need.

As part of yesterday's budget, we had the government release its own 2010 access to justice initiative. I welcome that and it is now clear that unmet legal need and access to justice are issues the ACT must address. And we hope that, in light of the government's focus on this issue as well, 2010-11 will be a year of real action on this very important issue.

Land—release

Debate resumed.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3.25): I thank Ms Porter for bringing the motion forward. It is good to have a debate about land release in the territory in particular. I think that there is no doubt that this has been an issue that has been very poorly handled by the ACT Labor government over many years. In fact, if anything, the announcement that we saw in the budget, which is referred to in Ms Porter's motion, about a massive provision for accelerated land releases is an acknowledgement of that failure. It is an acknowledgement that they simply have not kept pace with demand for many years.

Speak to any young first homebuyer and they will tell you that it has become more and more difficult in the territory to buy a home. It has become more and more difficult because the land price has been pushed up considerably. The land price in the ACT has gone up very quickly. I will refer to some statistics soon which demonstrate


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