Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2396 ..

MS McRAE (continuing):

In this appropriation we see absolutely no concern about this fundamental issue that should be the underpinning of policy within your department and every other department. You have let go a major leadership role and from that flows a whole range of other things.

How does the Government guarantee that there are proper interpreters in courts? They cannot. They cannot back it because the language policy does not say that it is the responsibility of the ACT to provide properly trained interpreters, both for sign language and for people of non-English-speaking background. How is the Government able to give direction in terms of the teaching of languages other than English? "Well, they teach it in schools", said Mrs Carnell during the Estimates Committee. Of course they teach it in schools. It is policy. But which languages? How is that coordinated then to tertiary studies? How is that coordinated to what is offered in the CIT? How is that managed with the communities that we have within the ACT who are maintaining their own languages? There is absolutely no coordinated policy direction. There is a ditching of all responsibility in that area; there is no appropriation, no concern.

How does the whole pride of the community in our non-English-speaking background people translate itself? There is no policy direction or allocation of funds from the Chief Minister's Department. There is nothing that directs attention to be paid to the skills of people who speak a language other than English. There is no rewarding of anyone within the service who has maintained a second language or learnt a second language. There is no reward for anyone who has sign language. There is no reward for people who are skilled in communicating with physically impaired people who may not be able to communicate too clearly. Through the abandonment of this policy this Government has abandoned basic responsibilities to the ACT community. By seeing the lack of appropriation within this line we can see the hole throughout the whole budget; that it has no centre that is focused on people who have specific needs in the ACT. The Government has walked away from it. This appropriation line that we are debating - I think it is the third now - is a clear example of why there are problems throughout this budget.

MS TUCKER (5.34): Mr Speaker, it is the Chief Minister's Department which will be driving many of the structural changes upon which much of this budget is predicated. For better or worse, we are living in an age where there are increasing demands on agencies and organisations receiving grants to justify their expenditure. More transparency and accountability should, in theory, be a good thing, depending on the values that underpin these changes. Big problems will arise if we base our assessments of performance on criteria that are too narrow. The other danger is that financial measurements can tell us we are receiving value for money only if we quantify the values of the services we are offering. The success or failure of many of the services provided by government simply cannot be measured in financial terms. If achieving certain performance criteria or productivity improvements is to be a basis for funding, qualitative factors as well as quantitative factors must be incorporated into objectives and indicators.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .