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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2997..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

going to do with the money and where you are going to spend it. I think that is a reasonable ask, is it not? Perhaps not.

The moneys announced simply do not add up-anybody can see that. I am wondering if the minister really knows what is going on, or if she is simply a puppet in the hands of some very experienced bureaucrats. I think we have to say that the level of scrutiny is evident by its absence. We are certainly not opposing the funding. The sector is in desperate need of a boost of some sort. It needs leadership. We in this place also need to know where that money is going and what it is going to be spent on specifically. I would suggest that we could have, and should have, been given the courtesy of more notice to consider the funding before us today.

MS DUNDAS (12.37): In the Estimates Committee and through various other means we have had some very long debates about the Vardon report and the role of the department and the role of the ACT government in looking after children in the ACT. However, because the Estimates Committee was not able to proceed with looking over this amendment, it is unclear what the $6 million being included through this amendment is going towards. How much of it is going to supporting more cases in care, and in care and protection? We have already seen extra money through the appropriation bills after the last budget for the increase in foster care services that was required. It is disappointing that we are not sure where the $6 million is going and what it is going to be used for. I hope the minister can provide some more advice on that tonight.

There is also the question that, because we do not know specifically what the $6 million is for, we are not quite sure how much of Vardon is being implemented at this stage, especially in relation to the fact that the audit and case review have not been finished, so the picture of what needs to be done has not yet been completed. We need further information from the government about what they are implementing out of Vardon-what the $6 million is being used to prioritise. Without a doubt, after this budget is passed we will be presented with a new appropriation bill, so that, once we have seen that audit and case review, we can work through the other funding initiatives that will be needed to support children and young people in the ACT.

I do not have a problem with that. In each of the years I have been in this Assembly we have done four appropriation bills every year, and I do not expect that the 2004-05 financial year will be any different. An appropriation bill provides us with the opportunity to look at the funding requirements in detail and provide some scrutiny on those. We were not able to do that with this initial response to the Vardon report.

The $6 million is the key first initiative in getting things moving on the question of how we care for our children in the ACT, and the other key component is how we report on their care. We just do not know how it is going to work, and the Assembly has not had the opportunity to properly scrutinise that. Whilst I am glad that there are changes going on, I am just not sure what those changes are.

Amendment agreed to.

Proposed expenditure-Part 1.19A-Children, Youth and Family Support, $60,972,000 (net cost of outputs) and $10,485,000 (capital injection), totalling $71,457,000.

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