Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 February 2015) . . Page.. 526 ..
lives of many. I thank Ms Porter for bringing this motion today. I agree with Ms Porter that local community services foster inclusion and equality across the ACT community.
Ms Porter has referred to the cuts that have recently been made to community organisations. Unfortunately, as we all know, the federal Labor Party left a huge mess, including a $47 billion budget deficit for 2013-14. The previous Labor federal government left behind a $310 billion government debt for 2013-14. This was catastrophic. The budget deficit and government debt left behind by the previous incompetent Labor federal government has meant that cuts were made.
The changes proposed by the current federal government are motivated by a desire to ensure a more sustainable welfare system. The proposed measures seek to strike a balance between providing incentives towards greater individual responsibility and self-reliance while at the same time providing support to the most vulnerable members of society. The measures proposed by the current federal government address the need to better target payments to those who need them most and to provide incentives.
Having said that, let me say that I strongly support the funding of community services. Ms Porter encouraged us all to write and express our concerns about the cuts in funding. In actual fact, I wrote to Minister Morrison on 23 December last year in relation to his decision last year to de-fund some organisations. I was deeply concerned about the federal government’s announcement to de-fund some organisations and cut funding for others. My letter to the Minister for Social Services urged him to reconsider his decision to de-fund and cut money to these organisations. So I share Ms Porter’s concerns.
But what has the ACT government done in relation to proposed cuts to community funding? Why have we waited until today to bring a motion on this issue? Why hasn’t the ACT government taken action sooner? As I mentioned before, I wrote the day after the minister’s decision in relation to proposed funding. I took prompt steps to engage with the federal government on this issue.
I am fully supportive of local community services in the ACT. There are many community services that I and others in this place have engaged with in one way or the other or are otherwise aware of through the fantastic work that they do through other channels. They include those mentioned by Ms Porter, but there are many more. I will not go through the list I prepared earlier.
I am happy to support Ms Porter’s motion today. As I have said, I have already written to the minister, but I am quite happy to support the motion today because it is a very important issue, of importance to all Canberrans.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (5.27): I thank Ms Porter for her motion and for her advocacy on such important community services and organisations. This motion speaks to