Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2045 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
a) responsibility for promoting the interests of individuals and families in greatest need, especially people living in poverty.
b) creation of an interdisciplinary social policy overview of Government decisions and activities
c) the capacity to monitor social impact, especially changes affecting those in greatest need ...
There were about four or five other dot points. This significant report produced by eminent and respected people recognised the need for a cross-sector and interdisciplinary look at social policy issues. This Government rejects that notion. They do not need a social policy unit; they just do it so well already. What we are seeing in the community sector and in the results of their work in the ACT is that this is not working and that there is fragmentation and a lack of communication between agencies. Every single report that I produced in the Social Policy Committee last year pointed out the fact that interagency connections and communication were lacking and had serious implications for people who were receiving services.
For that reason it is absolutely critical that we have a select committee to look at the issue of housing. Housing cuts across more than bricks and mortar, as Mr Smyth has been heard to say publicly in this place. When we raised the issue of legislative protection for tenants in the Narrabundah long-stay caravan park, I asked him whether he was aware of the Community Law Reform Commission report on legislative protection for that particular group, and he said, "Why should I know that? It is not my core business". I think you can see, Mr Speaker, that we might have a problem here. Housing not only cuts across the legal issue of tenancy; it cuts across other portfolio areas. It cuts across health; it cuts across family services and people who have supported accommodation and so on. There are a lot of broad social issues that need to be debated in that broad context. It is not good enough just to refer them to the Urban Services Committee with a shortened timeframe. The Government's amendments show that the Government does not care about these really important social issues, although it still makes the proud claim that it is a caring government.
I ask members of the crossbench to support this motion, which proposes a select committee. I have talked to them individually. I know members of the community have expressed to them the need to have a select committee so that we have a cross-sector approach to this issue. I ask them to support this motion.
MR WOOD (4.17): I would ask members to resist the amendments. As Ms Tucker has pointed out, the inquiry encompasses a deal more than just those areas under the auspices of ACT Housing, so it does require the broader sweep that the select committee will be able to give it. On that basis, I ask members to support the reference to a select committee rather than to the Urban Services Committee.