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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 863 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

The committee thanks all those who have contributed their views, through written submissions and through personal appearances. I express my appreciation to the committee secretary, Judith Henderson, for her professional support. I extend my appreciation to Ms Dundas, deputy chair of the committee, and to Mrs Cross. I think we all learned a lot out of the process, and from the information that was brought to the committee.

I commend the report to the Assembly.

MS DUNDAS (5.27): Mr Deputy Speaker, as members of the Assembly would be aware, I have the pleasure of serving on a number of committees. Three of those committees are reporting this week, regarding the 2002-03 budget. I would like to take this opportunity to raise some points that apply generally to the process undertaken by committees in the preparation of reports.

Concerns were raised again and again regarding the time frame, and the lack of information or direction for these budget inquiries. There is no denying that the non-government sector appreciates the opportunity to participate in the budget process. They could appreciate it more, however, if they were given more than a token opportunity; if the community had greater time to prepare, if there were more information forthcoming from government about the budget, as to what the government's parameters are-as opposed to sporadic media reports and obvious confusion with regard to the actual financial position of the city. Imagine what we could achieve if we had all that information going into these reports!

I refer specifically to the report from the community services and social equity committee. There are a few points I would like to highlight for the Assembly.

During the inquiry, a major process concern came up in the evidence from one of the organisations which appeared before us. They informed us that they had been instructed, by a government department, to put in a submission to the community services and social equity committee for the renewal of their core funding, as part of our budget inquiry.

This is concerning, and obviously outrageous. The committee made it quite clear that we were not making, and could not make, such a determination with regard to core funding. It has been the practice that such core funding applications do not come to the committees of the Assembly. The impact this misleading information could have had on a service vital to the ACT community is devastating. I hope the reasons underpinning this problem can be discovered and the issue quickly resolved.

I draw the Assembly's attention to a few other issues that were raised in the report. As Mr Hargreaves has indicated, housing-both long term and short term-must be seen as a key priority for the 2002-03 budget. The availability of secure and affordable housing is crucial, and critical to reducing poverty.

Another important point is the need for the provision of outreach workers attached to crisis accommodation services-to facilitate the move into independent living, and to provide ongoing support when required.

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