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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2707..


Budget—community sector

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Community Services and concerns the budget and the community sector. Minister, this year's budget allocates, and quite wisely, money to reduce government red tape for business. Could you please explain why the government believes that it is appropriate for the budget to pay for this reform for business but the community sector is being asked to pay for similar reform through its funding?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Hunter for her question. We are working with the community sector on some significant reforms. I think Ms Hunter is well aware of the changes that have been put in place, across the last year or so, across a number of programs.

Ms Hunter would also be aware that this government has committed to fully fund its share of the Fair Work Australia decision that will see pay increases to those that are not paid for the valuable work often that they do across the community. In working through that decision to be able to fully fund our commitment, we worked very closely with the sector and looked at the services and the number of staff that would be involved. We also did a very comprehensive piece of work that looked at the number of staff and their current wages and conditions so that we could see over time the contribution that we would need to make to the sector to fully fund that.

We have moved through that, and the reform has often been a conversation that we need reform across the sector. The sector itself recognises that, and we recognise that.

Ms Hunter: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Hunter. One moment, Ms Burch, thank you. Stop the clock, thank you.

Ms Hunter: It is about relevance and answering the question directly. The question was: could the minister explain why the government believes it is appropriate for the budget to pay for business reform but the community sector is being asked to pay for similar reform?

MR SPEAKER: Minister Burch, would you focus on the question, thank you.

MS BURCH: Yes, Mr Speaker. The reforms are part of the conversation. It has been an active conversation between the community sector and government. For some time, and certainly in the Fair Work Australia decision announcement, it has been announced that there would be contribution, a co-payment, if you like, from the community sector into these reforms. That was clearly articulated at the time the decision was made. It is a 3.4 per cent co-payment, co-investment, in these significant reforms. There is a reference advisory group that is working on these transitions to ensure that all the benefits, all the benefits from these reforms, go into the community sector.


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