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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 June 2021) . . Page.. 1635 ..

Whilst we are talking about the Aboriginal Legal Service, to echo some of the sentiments of Mr Parton, this is a government that have absolutely and utterly failed our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Under their watch, we have the highest Indigenous incarceration rates in the country. Under their watch, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans are almost 20 times more likely to be incarcerated. This is a disgraceful legacy of the Labor-Greens government.

If that was not shocking and disgusting enough, they will not even provide certainty of funding to the very organisation that is there, picking up the pieces, for the vulnerable members of our community who need them the most. This organisation is there for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans who need support as a direct result of the utter and absolute failures of this government.

My amendment also goes on to seek—because I must—certainty of funding for these community legal centres, because they will not be able to survive and provide the vital services that they do without that certainty.

This is the job of this government. This is the role of this government. This is the duty of this government: to take responsibility for its vulnerable citizens and to provide funding certainty so that these organisations get on with what they do best—support Canberrans, to help Canberrans, in Canberra.

It is 2 June. Asking for confirmation of certainty of funding within one month, less than one month, surely, is not too much to ask. I implore all members of this chamber to vote for my amendment to the Attorney-General’s amendment to my motion. I implore all members in this chamber to stand up for the community legal centres, for the services that they provide that are so vital to our community. I implore all members to show some heart and also to vote with their heart.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (4.30): The government will not be able to support Ms Lee’s amendment, despite her colourful and fairly derogatory comments. The reality is that the ACT budget is not due until August. The budget cabinet is actively working on these matters at the moment. I cannot stand here and, as someone who seeks to be good to my word, guarantee that in the next seven days the budget cabinet will resolve this matter.

I indicated quite carefully in my remarks that we are working to get this done as soon as possible. I think it will be done quite soon, but I cannot stand here and guarantee to this Assembly that the cabinet process will have this resolved in the next seven days. We are doing it as fast as we can.

The budget is due in August. I have indicated to the community legal centres that they will have an answer before the end of June, and as much before the end of June as we can give it to them. I just cannot guarantee that it will be in the next seven days. That is the sole reason that the government will not support and cannot support this seven-day requirement.

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