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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1849 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Ms McRae and Ms Tucker have mentioned concern in the neighbourhood. With a shelter like that there always have been some concerns. There were concerns last year, I recall, about kids at the shelter burning down a large playground structure and some trees next to the shelter. It was run by the Government then. I think there were concerns on occasions when Barnardos ran it. Because of the nature of the kids, there may even be some incidents when Richmond Fellowship runs it - hopefully, a lot fewer because the kids will have more to do. We can go back in history and show that incidents have occurred there regardless of who has been running it. It is about running the best possible program.

The reason Richmond Fellowship have the job is that they can offer a full range of programs, including day programs, for these very disadvantaged children. That is what we should be concerned about. The longer this goes on, the more damage will be done to these kids. I agree with one thing Ms Tucker mentioned. Uncertainty will affect the young children. They need certainty. They do not need to have industrial disputes. Maybe the union should not have had those industrial disputes. When they had 24-hour strikes, guess where the kids went. They went to the very private organisations, including the Richmond Fellowship, that those opposite do not want to run the shelter. Let us get a little bit fair dinkum here and let us look at reality. It will be the kids who miss out. It is one of the oldest tricks in the book to send it to a committee, hoping that it will go away and that the status quo will remain.

MR MOORE (11.23): Mr Speaker, I heard interjections when Mr Stefaniak was saying that really the crunch is that four children are going to miss out. The interjections used words such as "shame". I also heard that word in discussions about this motion before I came into the chamber. It is effectively emotional blackmail to say that if we pass this motion four children involved in this case will be worse off, because we know that if anything increases stress in people it is uncertainty.

Mr Speaker, I must say that that emotional blackmail, if that is what it is, works on me. Having looked at this motion, I considered it a very sensible motion. I congratulate Ms Tucker for bringing it up. But because I believe that four children are going to be worse off through this motion I am not going to support it. There are very few times when we make decisions in this chamber based on such a consideration. I think there is a broader principle that needs to be investigated by Ms Tucker's Social Policy Committee, without reference to the Assembly or through the Assembly. I would be very comfortable about their taking on that reference.

Mr Speaker, there are many decisions we make in this chamber that people would consider very controversial but that I find very easy. They do not put a great deal of stress on me. The decisions that create stress amongst members are those that have very good arguments on both sides, particularly when somebody is going to get caught in the middle. In this case the people who are likely to get caught in the middle are particularly vulnerable. I believe that they would be worse off. It is for those quite emotional reasons, rather than the substance of the motion, that I will not support this motion today. I think the motion has real merit. It was quite appropriate for Ms Tucker to bring it on. She argued particularly well why the motion should not go ahead, even though I think it has a great deal of merit.

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