Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 954 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
As I said, I will be supporting this motion because I think we need to understand that the community sector deserves exactly the same respect as the private sector, or whoever else is providing services. I believe that this is a very disrespectful way to treat these particular people who have worked for so long in good faith to work out the nature of funding and who were under the impression that it was triennial until the day that they went in to sign the contract.
MR CORBELL (9.12), in reply: I am grateful to the members who have indicated their support here this evening, Mr Speaker, and I am equally disappointed in the Government's response on this matter. I am disappointed because what we are asking this evening is the decent thing. It is the decent thing because the Government made an offer, and the offer was not for 12 months; it was for three years. They made the offer for three years. They gave the organisation the contract, a copy of which I have here, which indicated three years. At no time in the debate this evening did we hear the Government indicate that they did not offer a three-year contract. Everything points to the fact that they did. They did offer a three-year contract.
No-one is disputing that different organisations have different levels of funding and different terms for funding agreements. That is an entirely appropriate course of action for the Government to take. No-one on this side of the house is suggesting otherwise. What we are suggesting, Mr Speaker, is that, when the Government enters into a negotiation in good faith and a community organisation enters into a negotiation in good faith, both parties stick with that good faith, and, when the Government offers a period of time, it stick to that period of time. That is a reasonable thing to do. It is the decent thing to do.
The other issue that I want to address this evening in reply is the issue to do with how you work with a sector. Clearly, when organisations come and negotiate with government, they are the people who are on the front line. They are the people who are providing services to young people. They are the people who are seeing people come in the door with problems. They know what demands they can meet and what demands they cannot meet. It is pure semantics for the Government to suggest that I am defending the interests of the organisation rather than the interests of the people who use the organisation, because, Mr Speaker, they are the people from organisations which know what issues need to be addressed. The real partnership is between service delivery organisations and the Government that provides the funding. That is the true partnership, and that is the partnership which should be fostered and built on, not undermined and cut away, which is exactly what happened with Civic and Woden.
Mr Speaker, I do not resile for one moment from my comment that this is an act of political spite. What else can it be, Mr Speaker? It cannot be the excuse that the Government has presented to us, that they are doing a review. If they were doing a review, why did they offer a three-year contract, and why did they tell the organisation only on Monday that they were doing a review and the three-year contract was off? What sort of coordination is that? It is not an excuse, Mr Speaker. If it is an excuse, they really need to get a bit more creative upstairs. Mr Speaker, if there is a need for a review, why was it that the way the organisations found out was through Mr Rugendyke?