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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 2051..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Leave granted.

MR QUINLAN: I move amendments 1 and 2 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 2120].

I will be very brief on this because I expect Ms Gallagher to speak on it and explain the requirement for additional funds for child protection, and that is what the funds are for. I think most of the members know about it and it is a matter that has already been discussed in the Estimates Committee.

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.16): I will speak briefly on this because there continues to be some confusion about what this money is for and how it could have been planned for.

The amendment includes an additional $4.582 million to bring the total cost of substitute care to $6.382 million. This is in light of figures that were returned at the end of March this year which showed not only a significant increase in the number of substitute-care days required for children in the care of the territory but also a substantial increase in the cost of that care-increases of up to and over $20 a day per child. This is not something that could have been foreseen.

I understand the Estimates Committee wants better planning done around this figure. It is demand-driven by the courts. And the cost of days certainly is not something that we have seen. What we are seeing at the moment is not only the rise in days but also the rise in cost of days. Whilst in other quarters we have seen rises in days we have seen decreases in costs and it has been able to be managed within the budget. That is not what we are seeing now.

In relation to this amendment, which directly refers to appearing at the Estimates Committee for a second time: the committee has formed the view that I somehow did not give them the information I was giving the public. In relation to that, I appeared before the committee and gave them all the information I had. At the same time, because it related to a lot of money that was in the budget, I had prepared a media release. I asked that that media release not be sent out until I had given my evidence to the committee, and that is my understanding of what happened. In fact, the committee did not ask me about this money, as it turned out, and I volunteered the information.

So the comment of the committee that I did not provide them with information is simply incorrect. The committee did not ask me what I was planning to do in the outyears. I volunteered it to the committee, and Hansard reflects that very accurately of course. I think the concerns of the committee are unfounded.

But this money is essential money. I am glad we have got the support of the Assembly for it. If members are still confused about TA, estimating days and costs of days, then I am more than happy to reengage with them for another hour of explanation around this, but I am not sure it would solve some of the confusion that seems to pervade some of the members and their inability to understand fairly simple accounting concepts.

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