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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2885..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The government's water resources strategy, "Think water, act water", serves as a comprehensive guide to managing ACT's precious water resources. The government has committed $8.42 million in the 2004-05 budget to implement this strategy over the next four years. The strategy contains a number of initiatives supported by the government, including rebates for AAA showerheads, as well as a major information and awareness campaign to support continual long-term water saving in the community.

The Productivity Commission inquiry report into first home ownership was released last week. The government is currently analysing recommendations made and will provide a response in the near future. The government recognises that housing is critically important for our overall economic and social wellbeing.

Whilst the Canberra property market has increased significantly over the past three years, there is evidence emerging that the housing market may be cooling off. This evidence, combined with the 2004-05 budget initiatives and additional housing funding, should over time provide relief for home buyers, rental property owners and renters, alleviating the need for additional incentives or concessions.

Supplementary answer to question without notice

Child protection

MS GALLAGHER: I wish to provide further information on a question I took on notice. On 24 June Mr Cornwell asked me a question concerning the delay in the finalisation of the case audit of children in the care and protection of the territory being conducted by Ms Gwenn Murray.

In my answer to that question I stated I did not know why it had been delayed. I also mentioned that I had received a brief on the issue from Ms Vardon advising me of the delay. I would like to correct the part of my answer where I said I did not know why it had been delayed. In the brief to me Ms Vardon stated:

On 17 May 2004 I received a request from the Acting/CEO of the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services for four out of eight audit team members to return to substantive positions to deal with urgent matters of child safety.

I supported this request as the audit had been dealing in the main with legacy issues and current matters had priority. The effect of the reduction of numbers of the audit team was to double their remaining time for the completion of the audit which I now expect to be completed by mid-July.

Ms Vardon also stated that pressure on the availability of information technology support to develop robust data reports for the finalisation of audit outcomes has the potential to further delay the outcome of the audit report.

As I stated in my answer last week, it was Ms Vardon who commissioned the audit report, and I agree it was very appropriate action for her to take. Ms Murray will be reporting to Ms Vardon on the findings of the audit. It will then be for Ms Vardon to determine when and in what form the outcome of the audit is reported to government. As I stated last week, it is the government's intention to handle the audit findings, much as we handled the Vardon report.

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