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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2198 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Other services under attack are landfill disposal operations, parking management and domestic animal control services. In recent times the Government has cut back on the quality of services by closing them on the weekends or reducing staff numbers. We have already seen people squealing in the paper - and quite rightly so - about roaming dogs and how they have had difficulty getting somebody to come and take care of them on the weekend. It is the small end of a service spectrum that always seems to get it in the neck. The public begins to complain, so the Government announces outsourcing and the public are happy to see it sold off. That seems to be the scheme of things.

History has shown that a business in trouble is easy prey to a takeover bid, and sadly that is what this Government is doing time after time. It is really a familiar story. Ask the people at ACT Survey about it. Ask the people at Ecowise about it. It is a familiar story that the people at the service end of Urban Services are always under attack by this Government.

As usual, this Government is targeting the lowest salary earners to increase the number of people leaving the service. How many people who have left the service because of these cutbacks over the last two years were earning an average salary of $26,000 a year? I would think bucketloads of them. This year we will see 110 jobs cut from Urban Services, not surprisingly a third from CityScape. To cover the numbers, the Government threw in the term "departure lounge" to make it enticing. It is like Alice in Wonderland, to quote the Minister himself only two days ago.

During the estimates hearings the Labor Party quizzed the Minister about these so-called departure lounges. His departmental people use smoke and mirrors to cover up the real purpose of the lounges. Yet the Minister would not guarantee that his department would find jobs for those people who refuse redundancies. Instead, they will use psychological warfare to pressure people to leave. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, the Government will win, leaving many Canberra families with very uncertain futures.

No relief is in sight for Canberra families who are just beginning to feel the full brunt of last year's budget. A year later, my office is still receiving calls from families who are struggling to meet the financial demands that this Government has thrust upon them. No assistance has been given to families suffering from the increase in registration charges or the insurance tax imposed upon the responsible. We cannot forget bus fares, which in many cases rose by 160 per cent.

The Minister for good news stories turns a blind eye because he does not want to know of people's hardship for fear that he may look bad in the eyes of the public. This is the Minister who has virtually eradicated public metal rubbish bins because they were becoming full. With what? With people's rubbish. No, we cannot have rubbish in the bins. That is just too much. I always thought that it was the Department of Urban Services that should provide those essential everyday services for Canberrans. Obviously, I was mistaken.

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