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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1052 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

We also decided and put forward the view that it was important to do an audit, right across government, of various employment issues with regard to women, to make sure that women in the ACT Public Service were achieving to the extent that they should. Mr Speaker, our EEO policies are very well known and very much part of the approach that we take in government; but I think that every now and again it is important to go back and audit the situation right across the Public Service, to determine just how well the policies we have on the table are working and whether there are any impediments to women in the ACT. Mr Speaker, that is one of the promises that we made for the coming year.

We also made some very real commitments with regard to such things as mental health. As you know, mental health was one of the areas that we funded quite significantly in this budget - in fact, with an amount of money that has never been seen before in the ACT. We put aside $4m in capital works for the upgrade of a psychiatric unit at Canberra Hospital and $2m for the new secure facility; $700,000 was set aside for the recurrent costs of the secure facility; and I think $400,000 was set aside for community-based mental health - an area on which many women's groups have lobbied me very strongly.

Another area on which women's groups have lobbied me very definitely is the area of education. They want to ensure that school-based education does have the commitment of the Government, which it obviously has in this budget, and that there is a commitment in real terms to school-based education. In this budget $400,000 has been put aside for literacy. It is an area that I know, as a mother and as a woman, is absolutely essential for the future, not just of women, but also of boys and girls in our community. It is certainly the way to make sure that younger women and girls get an opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Mr Speaker, I could speak for an hour on the approach that we have taken; but I promise not to, because it is a short question time. Things like health, education and ensuring that women have the same opportunities as men in our community have are the basis on which our budget and also our vision for Canberra are built.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. The budget papers reveal that 17 of the Territory's departments, authorities and corporations predict static or declining staff costs over the next four years. For instance, at Canberra Hospital nearly 80 jobs are to go, 60 of which are held by women. Can the Chief Minister say how many other anticipated lost jobs are likely to be those of women?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, do members want to ask how many people with black hair or maybe how many people who wear yellow dresses on Wednesdays will lose their jobs? As Mr Stanhope would be very well aware, the approach that we have taken in this budget is not to go down the path of an inputs-based budget. The approach that we have taken is to ensure that women in our work force - - -

Mr Stanhope: Take casual jobs?

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