Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1531 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
support and accommodation. We see in the government response, as we have seen ever since I have been here, a commitment to a review or a strategy or a working party. It has been clear ever since I have been here that we need to get in and do that work.
There is an increase in homelessness. The homeless people are coming from different demographic groups. There is a problem with people having a place to go when they exit refuges. There are problems for people with mental illness, personality disorders or whatever. Young people have a concern about where they are accommodated. Everybody agrees that flats are not necessarily appropriate.
Options need to be developed for flexible support and for supported accommodation for young people as well. That is about getting in and looking at it creatively with the community sector, putting money into it and acknowledging that housing is not just bricks and mortar. Housing is about appropriate housing for people according to their needs. That requires quite a different approach.
I come to justice and community safety. I have said already that everyone supports the need for more funds for Quamby and BRC. There have been terrible issues there over the last couple of years, and it is good to see them acknowledged. Once again, we would want to see exactly why the way that this area is being managed has been changed. Mr Moore has promised me a report that will inform me on that particular issue.
The use of capsicum spray has been welcomed by some as an alternative to the use of lethal force. I also note that there are real dangers with that, so I am hoping that we will see capsicum spray introduced with a very good training and education program. I believe there have actually been deaths from capsicum spray. I do not see the justification for issuing AFP officers with semiautomatic weaponry. I do not understand where the Minister is taking this, on one hand acknowledging the need for alternative force in the form of capsicum spray and then justifying the use of semiautomatic weapons outside of specialist units.
Regarding urban services, one of the budget press releases stated that the nature of the Department of Urban Services is being changed to provide better service. I am not sure about the better service, but it is certainly being changed. It is being steadily gutted through the implementation of the purchaser-provider model and the outsourcing of work formerly undertaken within the department.
The process has already started with park maintenance and horticultural services, motor vehicle testing, learner driver testing and private certification of building applications. This process will continue this year with further market testing of CityScape services, environmental management and regulation, maintenance within nature reserves, management of horse holding paddocks, landfill operations, parking management and domestic animal control services.
One hundred and eighty jobs will be lost from Urban Services. However, as some compensation, 70 new jobs will be created in the department, but these are not the same types of jobs. These are jobs for contract administrators for all the outsourcing. The loss of corporate memory and expertise in DUS will be huge. The recent incident of weedicide spraying of preschool sandpits is but one example.