Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 622 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
They are the main points I wanted to make. I will be supporting this motion of Mr Berry's. I think that the Government needs to go and do its homework and show that it has a more consistent approach if it is going to start charging people in the community for their administrative processes. This is moving the business of government once more into the user-pays realm without a thorough and logical rationale behind it. It is ad hoc, and it is of concern to me and people in the community.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.40): I will speak only briefly on the motion. I really just reiterate the points made by Mr Berry and just now by Ms Tucker. I agree entirely with everything that Ms Tucker said. To some extent, she has said the sorts of things that I would like to say. There is an issue of significant principle here. Even if we look at the matter apart from the specifics of the incident that brought this matter to our attention in this case and look at it as a matter of principle and process, it raises very serious concerns. They are the sorts of concerns that Ms Tucker has just raised.
This is adhocery. This is ad hoc administration. Whenever we have an ad hoc process, it raises questions about the extent to which it acts as a precedent for a continuation of the practice. We stick a practice up in a particular instance, we justify it in terms of that particular occurrence or that particular circumstance - namely, schoolteachers and janitors - and we raise emotive arguments. We do not then look at it in the context of an overall policy position on requiring unemployed people to pay for applying for a job. It is a really significant change in the way in which we have regarded employment or employment-related issues. We are saying to people, "You may be unemployed and we really are serious about seeing you rejoin the work force, but you have to find 25 bucks from somewhere".
We all know whom this sort of policy impacts on most - those who cannot afford it. There is a significant question of policy here. There is the fact that it is not thought through. There is the problem that we do not know how it might just as well apply to other areas of government or other areas of employment. We do not know when some other employing organisation will jump up and say, "We will recoup our costs in the same way". It is a bad policy. It is a not-thought-through policy, it is adhocery and it impacts adversely on those within our community who at the moment perhaps are struggling most for their place within society and within our community. It should be rethought, it should be turned back, we should start again on it and the practice should cease.
MR OSBORNE (11.42): I will be brief as well. There is one point that I would like to raise before I speak to this motion, and that is in response to something the Minister said. I think he claimed in his speech that only Queensland does not charge. Perhaps he inadvertently misled the Assembly, but I am sure he would like to clarify it. We have some documents here. New South Wales, it appears, does not charge the Department of Education or the Department of Family Services for this. Queensland obviously does not charge, as he said. Victoria does not charge the Human Services Department. South Australia makes no charge for ancillary staff and no charge for Community Services. In Tasmania there is no charge for the Department of Education, and in the Northern Territory there is no charge. Obviously, you have not done your homework, Minister.