Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3826 ..
Mr Corbell: Why were they extended beyond three years? It is a simple question. Answer the question.
MR SPEAKER: Be quiet, Mr Corbell, otherwise you may not have a chance to ask a question today.
MS CARNELL: Why were these contracts extended beyond three years? Not why did we extend them, but why were they extended? I understand that the 1994 standard provides for TAA to be up to three years, with extensions in special circumstances by chief executives. It is understood that during 1996 the Chief Minister's Department acceded to the requests of a number of executives to extend the entitlement to the term of the contract. The Commissioner for Public Administration, exercising chief executive powers provided under section 20 of the Public Sector Management Act passed by members opposite, signed an instrument in August 1996 extending these allowances to five years. I can provide that document to members of the Assembly if they want it.
What we have established here is that the public sector commissioner did that under an Act passed by them; that he did not come to the Government or to the Minister because, quite simply, he did not have to. If those opposite want to question the public sector commissioner set up by their legislation, let them do so; but that is not what you do in question time.
MR WOOD: My question is to the Chief Minister. I believe that it is properly directed to her. I refer to the decision to close down an art class for the disabled at the CIT. This decision follows earlier decisions of your Government to remove disabled workers from their jobs. Whilst events consistently demonstrate that this Government is not the caring government that it claims to be, is there any chance that it will put its money where its mouth is and find the resources to allow this important and necessary program to continue?
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, this Government's commitment to people with disabilities has been so significantly greater than the previous Labor Government's that this question is simply ridiculous. In fact, even in the area of CityScape, on which those opposite have made comments in the past, the percentage of people with disabilities is now higher than it was under Labor. This Government has increased the amount of money it spends on disabilities quite significantly over the five years it has been in government. I think that the increase has been something like 30 per cent.
Mr Moore: Six months ago, we put in an extra $1m.
MS CARNELL: This year, as Mr Moore just said, we put in an extra $1m to help people with disabilities. According to the statistics, the ACT is one of probably only two governments in Australia - it may be the only one - that have actually significantly increased the funding for people with disabilities over the last few years. It has not been the Labor governments, Mr Speaker; this Government has been the government that has