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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2093 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I think his response was that he would have to take legal advice on that before he could answer it. It seemed to me that the minister was making the decisions about whether CTEC will provide papers. Well, if that is the case, there is something seriously wrong with the independence of CTEC, because we all know that those TOCs have a general provision where if there are directions or requirements of government to these organisations they have to be in writing and they have to be tabled in this place so that we can see them. It was clear to me over the papers issue that the minister knew more about it than CTEC did, and it troubled me that CTEC was set up to be an independent statutory authority.

I go back to the requirement for CTEC to put up with the Feel the Power campaign which it didn't want. I think the independence of CTEC has been severely compromised by this government. I sometimes wonder, in view of the political decisions being made in relation to the efforts of CTEC, why it is that we need this statutory corporation anyway if the government is going to continue to interfere with its operations. It is hard not to come to that conclusion, given its performance and all of the hyperbole that has gone on in relation to various events around the place which CTEC have been involved in and the close relationship between CTEC and government on these issues.

The new chief executive of CTEC has spoken to me and he has expressed a view that he wants CTEC to be bipartisan. Well, that is all very well, and it is a welcome suggestion, but if the political party that has its hand on the levers has made it a political organisation, it is hardly likely that it is going to be bipartisan in the foreseeable future against that background. I look forward to change for CTEC. I think it has a major job in front of it so far as the ACT community is concerned, and I think there would be many that would share my suspicion that it is not doing it as well as it could.

Mr Speaker, the Chief Minister's line in the budget contains a range of extremely important issues concerning the community, but I want to go back to one that my leader, Mr Stanhope, laboured on for some time and that is the issue of poverty. I want to link it to the government's hoopla about social capital. Mr Stanhope drew attention to the poverty line in the ACT and the number of people who are living below it. It is not hard to come to the conclusion that this government does not know what it is talking about when it starts talking about social capital.

How many people living below the poverty line will benefit from the free school bus system? What sort of a survey was carried out in relation to that? How many people who live below the poverty line would have benefited if that money had been put into schools? That is quite a different question. So that represents a significant lost opportunity. Here we had a chance. The government has been out there boasting about its surplus and how it has worked so hard to create this surplus, and it loses these opportunities to deal with the issues which it says it has targeted. I do not think it knows what it is talking about when it comes to the issues of poverty and social capital. It is not something that it has in its culture.

All of us have received complaints about the inability of our health system to cope. We now know that the health minister is not the spokesperson for the government on health. The Chief Minister is, according to his announcement on ABC radio a few mornings ago. What a mess. This is how the health minister described how he comes to decisions. If he disagrees with something but he participates in the cabinet debate, he cannot

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