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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2036 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Association; the Australian Career Counsellors Association; the ACT sport and recreation industry; and the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I think the last one was the only one that really liked the project, but unfortunately their evidence did not have very much substance at all.

I am quite offended when I see this statement in the response:

The reality would be otherwise, given a sensible, compassionate approach to supporting young unemployed people in the ACT.

If Mr Stefaniak is implying that the number of community groups I just listed do not have a compassionate and supportive approach to young people, then he needs to put that on the record very clearly. I can assure him that my experience of their work is that they do indeed and that they have a lot of experience to show what other structures need to be put in place to ensure that a sensible, compassionate approach is in place. It is all very well to use this kind of rhetoric about being sensible and compassionate, when in reality the project showed that these young people were possibly in danger of having quite negative experiences; that schools would feel the impact in a way that was not appropriate; that students could suffer as well; and that it was not a well thought out program. As I have already explained, it had to be changed during the process of the committee as evidence came to light and the department could not answer or respond in a satisfactory way.

Mr Stefaniak complains because of the length of time the committee took. Once again, I would have to point out that we had so much interest from the community that we were not prepared to say, "Go away. Mr Stefaniak is in a hurry". If Mr Stefaniak had come up with more consultation processes before they came out with this project, the committee would not have been necessary. That was a very clear message that came through from most witnesses. Consultation did not occur. Once again, I think the Chamber of Commerce thought they were consulted, but as they were not people who had educational experience that was not necessarily very impressive.

Mr Stefaniak says, "What do the majority members want - a 24-carat-gold blackboard duster for every school?". Once again, that is a really damning statement from a government which has once again shown itself to be very inadequate in the area of education policy.

MR BERRY (3.45): Mr Speaker, this work for the dole program started out as an ideological push from this Government in relation to unemployed workers. In other words, it is about punishing the victims by forcing them to do something that they might not otherwise wish to do. The first and fundamental mistake that the Government made was in its refusal to consult with all of the stakeholders in relation to the matter. Witness after witness came to the committee and informed us about the lack of consultation. In fact, it was discovered early in the piece that the Department of Education and Community Services had not complied with the Government's consultation protocol. A recommendation was made in respect of that, and all the Government could do was say, "Noted".

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