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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 992 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The Tourism Industry Council, which also comes well within our terms of reference, did not make a submission but talked to us about the importance of proper support for tourism industry. It is very important that the tourism industry be squarely based on the objectives within its governing regulations, one of which is environmental sustainability. I agree that tourism is an important industry and that we need to be supportive. As well, it is a sustainable industry.

We also received submissions from the Junction Youth Service and Catholic Education Office and we were interested in listening to representatives of those organisations.

MR SMYTH (11.55), in reply: Mr Speaker, as others have made comment about the process, I will not dally on that too much, except to say that the lack of information and the lack of time did hamstring the process somewhat. I would agree with Ms Tucker's comment that it was interesting to talk to some groups face to face and get information on how they saw what was going on out in the community. I think it is very important that members, through committees, do that as much as they can in this regard.

Some of the groups expressed the view that they did not understand the context of what they were being asked and how they might deliver their information. So perhaps we need to have a discussion about whether it is really a draft budget process or simply just budget consultation; which is more effective; how might we get the best out of it for the people of Canberra; and how all here can be assisted in doing our jobs.

The three key groups that we spoke to were ACTCOSS, the Canberra Business Council and the Tourism Industry Council. They had a great deal to say. The first two certainly gave quite wide-ranging submissions. I think the contribution that ACTCOSS wants to make to reduce poverty and help people avoid or climb out of poverty, is very important not only to the personal wellbeing of Canberrans but also for the economic wellbeing and the stability of Canberra in achieving the triple bottom line of being environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

They gave a number of examples, some of which were quite practical. For instance, they told us that some of the information that the government puts on the net is inaccessible to people with disabilities, and would urge the government to particularly look at that. They then went through some suggestions as to how we could improve accessibility to services and how we could reduce financial inequalities. These are important matters. The theme of access to affordable housing and transport and how that had an effect on the status of people in our society came up again.

They felt there was need to fund a study into unmet advocacy needs in Canberra, and that is also a theme that came across in the health committee as well-that there were people who did not know about services that were available. It is important that we help them use the system to their advantage.

Another theme that came out across a number of the groups was data collection. ACTCOSS said we needed to improve data collection. The Canberra Business Council said that we need to monitor demographic changes because we will see a change in Canberra's population over the next 15 years, particularly in the ageing population, and that will put pressure on things like health, transport and housing.

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