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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 August 2010) . . Page.. 3481 ..


did not even try to excuse his behaviour or try to defend their own constituency. No, as long as they can play follow my leader with Mr Abbott, they are happy.

Things will work out all right of course, will they not? How are they going to work out all right? Ms Hunter and her colleague Mr Rattenbury, Mr Stanhope, Mr Hargreaves and Ms Burch realise that these cuts will have a devastating effect on so many levels of the community, and things will not work out all right. As Ms Hunter said, the effect is keenly felt.

As Ms Burch said, the effect will be keenly felt across the community sector and across the whole community, affecting our mental health, affecting the fabric of our family life, seeing family members make hard decisions about whether they can remain in the ACT or have to leave to find work elsewhere. Some of those small business owners that Ms Burch was talking about will have to make hard decisions about whether they try to struggle on with their businesses or whether to close them. Families leaving the ACT will have to make the hard decision about whether they leave older relatives behind, older relatives that have decided to retire here to support their sons and daughters and their grandchildren.

As Mr Hargreaves said and Ms Burch mentioned, some of our town centres can become almost like ghost towns, small shadows of their former self, with so many businesses closing their doors. Ms Hunter and Ms Burch reminded us about the drain that the loss of these jobs will have on our community sector through the increase in demand for their work.

I must say something about what Mr Hanson attempted to turn into a joke earlier. I am very disturbed about this. I find it most disturbing that Mr Hanson attempted to laugh off my reference to depression by saying I was confusing it with recession. I think mental health is not something that we can joke about. As we all know, there are many people that suffer from depression. It touches a lot of our families, and I think it is highly inappropriate for us to joke about such a serious mental health issue. So I am shocked about that. I am really disappointed that he tried to make that into a joke in this place. He is a champion, or he used to be, or he tries to be, for changes in our health system and has spoken on many occasions about mental health. To try to score political points about depression, I think, really trivialises the whole issue.

We have heard a lot in this place, both yesterday and today, about the effect Abbott’s job cuts to the public service will have on the ACT. I think that, unlike Australia, Canberra has not been provided with many of the things that could buffer other parts of Australia. For instance, we have not got much of the infrastructure necessary to support a vibrant private sector. The absence of port facilities, substantial rail services, major highways linking territory and other capital cities, these are essential elements of successful cities but are missing in the ACT. Without the federal public service, Canberra would not survive economically. The Canberra community benefits enormously from having the federal government here.

The multitude of knowledge-based industries that evolved in the territory would not be present without the highly skilled workforce that the public sector attracts. Specialists in finance, information technology, environmental science, the law and


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