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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 7 Hansard (5 August) . .

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When more pressure is applied to the rental market, more people have trouble finding rental property and so apply for government housing. Despite my questioning, it seems our level of public housing is an accident of history and there is no rigour that goes into studying and projecting what our supply should be and what the next year or more holds for demand. I recommend that the minister considers what he will do if demand increases.

This budget has been sold as getting jobs on the ground during a time in which there is jobs contraction. Given this rationale, I was shocked to find that stage 2 of the Belconnen Arts Centre, being a shovel-ready project, was not funded. Apparently we need a Northbourne Avenue tram, but the fact that Belconnen has no town hall or such facility for people to meet in and that this project is ready to roll but is unfunded shows up the untruth of the budget sales job.

I am glad to see a recommendation on fenced playgrounds—one for each zone across this city—and the pod playground getting closable small-children-size gates. This may not seem very important to the minister, who perhaps has never had the fortune of breastfeeding a child on a park bench while supervising a running toddler, but it is very important to many mums and carers in our community.

I am really pleased to see a recommendation that the government review the availability for ESL education for women and, in particular, childcare places to be made available, if possible, alongside such courses. There are not enough places with child care, and the result is that many women live in a community that they can barely benefit from because they cannot confidently communicate.

Issues of bullying and harassment are of great concern to many members of the community, and I thank the departments for supplying their figures through questions taken on notice. I hope that adding more light to the extent that this is experienced will assist the government to have a best-practice method rolled out across the whole ACT public service for dealing with such situations.

Key recommendations from this report are around the expenditure of funds from the capital provisions account. It is all very well and good to claim that in order to get best value for money for the major works being planned by this government we do not need to know the exact figures today of how much is expected to be spent on each particular project. However, it is vital in an accountable democracy such as ours that large sums are not committed to without informing the public and allowing for public debate. This government may be tired of public consultation; it may be tired of members of the community having a view, but we do not live in a benevolent oligarchy, and the public have a right to know.

My thanks go to special guests to the committee including Mr Wall, Ms Lawder, Dr Bourke, Mr Hanson, Mrs Dunne, Mr Coe and Mr Doszpot. Thank you for assisting me at the far end of the table and for assisting to investigate particular areas of expenditure and how they affect our community. For opposition members it is not easy to take the responsibility to scrutinise government's performance. We do not cut the ribbons at the town fair and sometimes we can only channel the frustrations of others into this place. So I thank the shadow ministers for faithfully doing their jobs in this process. I commend the report to the Assembly.


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