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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 947 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I think I have mentioned already that we have a number of categories, and category 2 is the 12-month service. I think it is terribly important that we actually look at what we are doing here. We are providing services. We want to provide services that are applicable to young people. There are certain services that I think we need to assess - services which we can provide and we should provide from these centres - and that is something the Government is committed to doing. That is something that we are committed to assessing over the next 12 months so that those services can then be provided from those centres. That is really the core of this issue - what is best for young people.

We on this side of the house, Mr Corbell, talk to a number of young people. We go out there and we talk to our constituency. We hear what they say. We hear of their needs, and that is important. Some of those needs change. There are some things that need to be improved. We are mindful of that. It is not a case, Mr Corbell, as you say, of some devious means being adopted to sort of shaft two youth centres. Far from it. They are terribly important youth centres. They have provided good service, as have all of our youth services in the past; but there are certainly changing needs. There are things we need to do. There are additional things that I think we need to do and that we need to assess. Hence the need for the approach we have taken.

MR HARGREAVES (8.45): There are a number of issues I would like to address. Firstly, having worked in the department that conducts this, I have every confidence that those officers will be doing things to the best of their abilities. Also, I must say that the Minister is held in fairly high regard by those officers because of his commitment to education and to youth services. The problem, Mr Speaker, is that many of the public servants with whom I have associated over the last 30 years, and in particular the last few, are scared witless of the intervention of the Chief Minister when we talk about Feel the Power. There are many examples, and this is one of them, of how people are scared of the personal intervention of the Chief Minister into program service delivery. I have no doubt whatever in my mind, Mr Speaker, that these people have expressed their fear because their fear is well founded.

Mr Stefaniak: You are a shocker.

Ms Carnell: Not even Cabinet is scared of me. I wish they were.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I believe that the symbolism exchanged by you and the Chief Minister not only is comical but also devalues your position, and I would urge you not to continue it.

The thing that struck me while I sat and listened to the speeches earlier on, Mr Speaker, was the propensity for those opposite to laugh their heads off when we are talking about youth services, and I deplore it. These services are not something that we should be looking at lightly. It is not a case of mirth, Mr Hird. These things are absolutely super serious. What we are talking about here, Mr Speaker, is services to the kids of this city and this Territory. It is absolutely amazing to me how we can pontificate on the one hand and say, "We really value these youth services. We really think that they have a role to play in our society. But we will single out some of them for three-year contracts and others for 12-month contracts".

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