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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 241 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

going to be elected. That will be the time for us all to work out just what qualities we have or have not got. My contribution to that, I am sure, will be a very small one in the rank of all those others who are coming down in October.

Excell Corporation

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services. Is it the case that ACT Waste turned away trucks with waste from Excell Corporation, the successful tenderer for the horticultural maintenance contract for Woden and Weston Creek when your government privatised that service, because of unpaid bills?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have no idea. I will have to take that question on notice and get an answer for the member.

MR HARGREAVES: While the minister is doing that, would he like to come back to the Assembly by close of business today-it should not take that long to find that out-and tell us how much Excell does owe the government in unpaid tip fees?

MR SMYTH: I would hope that, as a general principle, anybody who did not pay their bills was turned away. I think it is a reasonable commercial thing, where we charge bills, that people pay their bills. l am not aware of what Mr Hargreaves is talking about. I will get that information for him.

Poverty task force

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Chief Minister, Mr Gary Humphries. Can the Chief Minister advise the Assembly of the government's response to the problems identified by the poverty task force?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mrs Burke for that question. The government is yet to respond formally to the poverty task force. I hope that every member of the Assembly has had a chance to read the report and to consider the ways that the community might be able to address the issues that are raised in it.

It was a very thoughtful report, one which took the time to canvass a large range of community views. I am sure I speak for the members in this place when I say it was a report which did touch on a number of key things and important issues that we need to face up to. The 2001-2002 budget has been designed in part around the need to face up to the issues which the poverty task force report highlighted for the community.

We have announced in that draft budget a series of important initiatives to address the social disadvantages currently faced by some members of the ACT community. There is a popular misconception that the ACT does not have any poverty, or very little, when in fact the task force reported that something like one in 12 Canberrans experience poverty. That figure represents far too many people, 25,000 or so Canberrans, for any government to be content to allow remaining in that state. The poverty inquiry exposed those issues for all of us to deal with.

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