Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 August 2015) . . Page.. 2655 ..
I also look forward to the launch of our new active ageing framework and associated action plan which is scheduled to be launched later this year, which will guide and support our policies, programs and initiatives for older Canberrans over the next four years.
Staff at the Community Services Directorate support some of our most disadvantaged Canberrans—I have mentioned this a number of times—often in very complex and difficult circumstances. I say to all the CSD staff that I commend and support the valuable work you do, and thank you on behalf of the whole community.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (8:54): I am pleased to talk about the Community Services Directorate in today’s budget debate. The first thing I want to touch on is the discussion we had in the estimates hearings about the community sector reform program levy of 0.34 per cent. On the first day of estimates hearings we had a number of community groups come through, and most of them expressed their concern about the extension of the community sector reform levy. They conveyed to the committee that this levy was unexpected in being reapplied for a further two years; they were under the impression that the levy would cease. We had quite a discussion about the failure of the government to communicate with the community sector about its agenda. It was concerning to hear that the community sector organisations were not made aware of the possibility of the levy being extended for a further two years and were not consulted before the extension of the levy.
It was clear to me there was also a lack of transparency from the government about how the levy had been expended to date. A number of the community sector organisations felt that the levy had not been spent and there was uncertainty about exactly what it had been spent on. Other jurisdictions do not apply a similar levy, although during the hearings the government claimed the ACT has traditionally had the highest rate of indexation of payments. However, what they did not say, which we heard about a bit later, was that when you apply the levy it drops the indexation down to below the New South Wales level of indexation.
The estimates report made a number of recommendations about the community sector reform levy. Recommendation 77 states:
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government work closely with the community sector on the continuation of the Community Sector Reform Program.
I was pleased to see in the government response that that was agreed to. Recommendation 78 states:
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government provide the Legislative Assembly with details of what is planned for the remaining funds already collected under the Community Sector Reform Program levy.
This recommendation was noted. Recommendation 79 states: