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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4689 ..

This letter writer, Mrs Anita Miller, goes on to discuss at length the implications of cutting the itinerant support vision teachers for people in the ACT. This letter shows how complex and difficult an issue this is. And we have the department, supported by the minister, just sweeping aside these complexities in the name of economic rationalism, in the name of making the budget cuts irrespective of where they are and without thought for the ongoing impact that such budget cuts will have.

I would rather put my money—and I think that the people of the ACT would rather put their money—into ensuring that blind children, vision-impaired children and hearing-impaired children get a better start in life than into planting more forests in the Canberra arboretum. That is where our priorities should be. Plant our arboretum when we have plenty of money left over, but until that is the case Andrew Barr and his colleagues, who are noticeable by their absence, should be standing up for the vulnerable in our community and not tearing them down.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (10.52): I thank Mr Doszpot for tabling this motion in the Assembly today. The ACT Greens are concerned with the process that the Department of Education and Training followed in attempting to address a requirement to meet the one per cent efficiency dividend provided for in the 2010-11 ACT budget.

Stakeholders affected by the proposals in the internal working document raised these concerns with my office almost immediately, and details appeared in the Canberra Times on 25 September 2010. I then contacted the minister’s office seeking a briefing. We were aware that the paper was an internal working document, but it was obviously out in the public domain and therefore causing other stakeholders and those who would be impacted by the proposed cuts great concern.

I received a briefing from the executive of the department on 12 October. At that meeting I was given a copy of the consultation paper for the first time. I thank the department and Mr Barr’s staff for arranging this briefing and providing the paper. During the briefing I sought clarification from the department about the process being undertaken and I inquired about the consultation I expected to be undertaken with external stakeholders around possible cutbacks. I made it very clear that this consultation with any stakeholders affected must be part of the process. The fact that the paper had been made available to the public meant that this needed to be undertaken as soon as possible. I note—

Mr Doszpot: It wasn’t made available to the public.

MS HUNTER: Well, the fact that it was out in the public domain meant that it needed to be undertaken. I think I have clarified that it was an internal document; it got out into the public domain, therefore, it was essential that all stakeholders and those impacted needed to be involved in the consultation.

I note that, as late as yesterday morning on ABC radio, when pressed on the issue, Mr Doszpot conceded he had not sought a briefing from the department on the issue. The concern I have with that is he then held a public forum on Monday with

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