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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3207 ..

MR COE (Ginninderra) (11.05): We have already had a pretty interesting display this evening from Mr Hargreaves and from a number of the other members. It is pretty disappointing when you have Mr Hargreaves addressing the chamber, for the best part of 20 minutes, telling us that we pretty much wasted the Assembly’s time. That was pretty special.

Then, of course, we had him defending Ms Burch’s behaviour; defending Ms Burch’s decision to move a couple of childcare centres to Flynn as Ms Burch “saving” these childcare centres. If I recall correctly, I am pretty sure it was pretty much due to Ms Burch that Gumnut—yes, gumnuts—in particular were in a bit of strife in the first place. It was because Ms Burch and her department were unwilling to give them some certainty and was unwilling to give them a commitment that they went through so much angst in the first place. It was because of Ms Burch that registrations at Gumnut did actually slow down. It is because of Ms Burch that so many families in Belconnen went through a very tough time. It is only because of Mrs Dunne and the Liberal opposition that this issue came on the agenda here in this place, which brought about pressure to make Ms Burch actually listen to the Gumnut community and respond to their concerns.

In effect, what we had was Ms Burch pushing someone into a river, diving in after them, saving them and then asking to be thanked. It is all a bit special and I think it is indicative of how Ms Burch operates. She does not have a grasp of her portfolio. She is totally dependent upon her lifeline, being that folder. Any time we ask a question in this place, either Mr Barr gives her the answer or she quickly goes to the index, finds a couple of prepared paragraphs and reads it out, whether it is relevant or not. She does it with questions from the Greens, she does it with questions from us and she even does it to the odd dorothy dixer, which is not quite as easy as one might think.

There are a number of initiatives in this budget that have been marketed as being beneficial to young people. However, again we see very little in the way of a forward plan for service delivery, especially for the youth of the territory. While the ACT has a significant ageing population, we continue to have a higher proportion of young people than the national average. The 2001 ABS data indicates that 21.9 per cent of the population in the ACT—that is, 24,371—are aged between 12 and 24, compared with 19.3 per cent nationally.

Where is the forward planning from this government? Where is the actual implementation of the ACT young people’s plan in this budget? It is a question that has not been raised much in the chamber yet, but I think it is something that is going to warrant more attention as the sitting days continue in the second half of the year. What we have here is a glossy document. We have got something that might look the part, but when it comes to actual tangibles, when it comes to actual deliverables, we are not seeing much by way of implementation of the ACT young people’s plan.

It is important to note that youth policy is not just about skate parks, it is not just about mental health and it is not just about a lot of issues that do warrant a lot of attention; it is also about things like employment, it is also about things like housing affordability and it is also about things like general social engagement. It is about sport, it is about education—it is a very broad suite of things—and I think it is very important that we do not forget mainstream youth in our youth policy.

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