Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2010) . . Page.. 6138 ..
MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (4.34): If nothing else, this is an apt discussion for the last day of sitting for the year and the halfway point of the Seventh Assembly. Certainly much has changed over the last two years. The government is in better shape than it was when it had a majority in this place. The Assembly and democracy in the ACT are also much healthier because of the influence of a strong crossbench provided by the Greens.
That said, there is still a long way to go and much more to do. The government does have shortcomings and fails to address some pressing issues facing the community.
Mr Seselja: Are they heading in the right direction, Meredith?
MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, one moment, please. Stop the clocks, thank you. Mr Seselja, I think you might have been out of the room, but Mr Hanson was heard in silence and I expect other members to be afforded the same courtesy.
MS HUNTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Thanks to the Greens, this place has a very different dynamic and has been much more responsive to community concerns and delivered much better outcomes for the people of the ACT. Thanks to the ALP-Greens agreement, there have been significant improvements for the people of the ACT.
Most notable, of course, is the climate change target. The government would not have committed to such a significant greenhouse gas emissions reduction without the Greens. The government has had a mixed performance on the environment. After a sluggish couple of years, the Greens were very pleased to see the government make a commitment to set a science-based climate change target of 40 per cent by 2020 and have been heartened to see some positive action on renewable energy through the development and expansion of the feed-in tariff. These are two outcomes that the Greens included in the parliamentary agreement and have long campaigned for. I think that the climate target would not have happened without the Greens being in the Assembly and without strong engagement from the community.
Other improvements that have come along because the Greens have been in the Assembly include better funding for mental health, housing and transport.
Through the agreement, community-based mental health services are receiving more funding, which is where we need the investment to occur. However, we still have a long way to go in tackling mental health issues in our community. We should be supporting calls from the community for 12 per cent of the health budget to be spent on mental health. This budget saw an additional $1 million per annum in mental health growth funds; the community needs much more than that, especially given that the Chief Health Officer has shown that mental disorders now make up 15 per cent of the burden of disease in the ACT and five per cent of our mortality rate.
We also found out that there were people who were homeless and exiting the psychiatric services unit who were being sent to unsupported accommodation. It is vital that the government invests in housing and supported accommodation options for people with mental illness. Without that, there is little to no chance of them