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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2044 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Once again, at the risk of being repetitive - and I know how the Government has no interest in the subject of consultation except to say that it is all rather silly - I point out that it would have been useful for the community sector, whose lives are centred on the issue of housing and supporting people who are disadvantaged, to have been consulted on these changes. When we asked Mr Smyth about this in estimates, he said that there is no requirement at all to consult if it is a budget issue, which in itself is a curious statement, considering there are several pages of government notes on what the community said when they responded to invitations to put views on the budget.

It is inappropriate that these broad social policy changes were linked with the budget. One has to suspect that it was somehow to coopt Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke into supporting them because they have made a publicly stated commitment to supporting budget initiatives, but fortunately they are open-minded enough and can see that really this is about the social policy of this Liberal Government, that it is not necessarily related to budget and should not have been linked to the budget in the way it was and that there should have been consultation. As I understand it, concerns have been expressed to those members by the community sector on this and they have received a sympathetic hearing.

We can establish that we need to belatedly look at these issues that the Government suddenly came up with out of the blue. The argument today seems to be based on whether the committee should be a select committee or a standing committee. The Government want to make the inquiry shorter because they are such a good can-do government. They just want to get on with it. They will have a short consultation, maybe, and will have much more limited terms of reference. That is why I, the Labor Party and hopefully the crossbench members are supporting a select committee. We want to do that because we have all had many meetings with people in the community sector who recognise that the issues involved in this debate are much broader than the terms of reference of the Urban Services Committee would normally be interpreted to allow. We often hear that the Urban Services Committee is overworked, so that is an issue as well.

For the benefit of the members of this place, particularly the Liberals, who do not listen anyway, I want to refer to the executive summary of a document that came from the Western Australian Government, called "Community Choices: Individual Lives". It was written by a task force put together to look at the issue of poverty in Western Australia. It was produced in 1998 as a response to the United Nations International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. This report said that housing was a significant issue - yes, we all seem to be able to agree on that - but that there was a need to have a broad look at social issues in an intersectoral, interdisciplinary way. They made specific recommendations on that matter that I will read into Hansard:

That Cabinet acknowledge the cost to individuals, the private sector and governments of relative poverty ...

That the Minister for Family and Children's Services take a proposal to Cabinet to establish an advisory group and/or unit that reports to the Cabinet on social policy matters. It should have an across portfolio mandate including:

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