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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3197 ..


Perhaps the highlight of Ms Burch’s foray into her first budget was the proposal to open a childcare centre at the former Flynn primary school. We remember that back in budget week. When Ms Burch was asked about this she said that this would be another 110 places, that this was an incredible increase in childcare in the ACT and that it would have a great impact on the people of west Belconnen in particular. It turned out that it was absolutely incredible in the classic sense of the word, because we discovered that those 110 to 120 childcare places are in fact net—somewhere between 10 and 20 new childcare places. So for all that money, $4 million and 110 to 120 places, only 10 to 20 of those places are new places. Only 10 to 20 of those places are new places.

It seems that the Canberra Liberals were quite prescient when Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth made a recommendation in their dissenting comments that the minister tell this Assembly how she was going to fill those places, to assure the Assembly that they would be net new places and that they would not be used to relocated people who already had problems with their accommodation. Ms Burch promised the people of the ACT in this Assembly that they were new places and that promise has come to nought.

On top of that, we see the issue that she did not consult with the John Flynn Community Group about the agencies that might go in there. She did not tell them ahead of time that she had made this decision. She says all the time that she likes to talk to people. Ms Burch talks to people but she does not listen and she does not carry through.

When I was listening to Mr Hanson’s comments about how Ms Burch does not engage with people with disabilities, I was reminded of some of the experiences I have had. I have taken constituents to see Ms Burch. I did this when she first became a minister because I thought, “Here is a woman who appears to be sympathetic, who seems to be willing to listen to people.” I have taken a constituent on one occasion to see Ms Burch. Ms Burch sat there and she really empathised. She really empathised. I thought, “Good. At last I am going to get a breakthrough for this woman.” But months later nothing has happened for that family who are still in distress and they still have not resolved their situation.

On a number of occasions, I have contemplated repeating that but I have decided it is just not worth the effort. It is an embarrassment to take constituents to see Ms Burch, to have their hopes raised only to have them dashed. When constituents go and see Ms Burch or organisations go and see Ms Burch, they get, “Oh dear. I feel for you. I deeply sympathise.” That is the end of it because Ms Burch cannot deliver. She does not know how to control her department. She does not know how to be a minister and she fails to deliver to the most vulnerable people in this territory—people with disabilities, people who are in distress in all manner of ways. This minister fails to deliver for those people.

Another area where Ms Burch is failing to deliver is in the area of childcare. Since she has become a minister, this opposition has asked her time and again what she is doing to help the childcare sector, mainly the non-government childcare sector, the community based childcare sector. It is often run by small parent groups.


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