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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1214 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The cumbersome purchaser/provider model was also, and is also, a relevant consideration in any analysis of the effectiveness of the services in this area, and in other areas. For several years, I have asked for a full analysis of the purchaser/provider system, in terms of its benefits and costs. This call was supported by many in the community, who felt that quality was not improving, despite the claims by government. Providers were caught up in bureaucratic processes while people with disabilities and their advocates and carers were still struggling with poor-quality outcomes.

I know that the new Labor government has made a commitment to examining the purchaser/provider model, and I welcome this move as it is long overdue. While the previous government was prepared to look at the model around the edges, and produced various papers, such as More than the sum of its parts and others, it was never prepared to really evaluate the model. We still hear the words "client" and "consumer", which came with that whole model of competition. They are offensive to many people in the community.

We should understand why they are offensive: what is it that those words tap in people that upsets them, in this world where such terms as "competition", "consumer" and "consumer rights to choose a product", the language of the market, are now being applied to human services?

That still upsets people. We need to have a good look at what the implicit message is when we call citizens of our communities "clients" or "consumers", and ask whether that has that actually worked. It is part of an almost rigid adherence to competition, which is consistently supported by Liberal governments and often Labor governments.

Also, of course, budget decisions are made by the government of the day, so responsibility lies there too. This is obviously also something that has to be given a lot of attention. It is an extremely important factor in any analysis of services and their effectiveness in supporting those in need. Of course, we have heard the minister of the day, Mr Moore, admit on several occasions that there was unmet need in the disability sector, that the Commonwealth had failed to take adequate responsibility, and that the government was increasing its spending in the area.

However, this was still the same government that chose to spend millions on Bruce Stadium. Maybe no one died, Mr Humphries, but that was millions of dollars that could have gone to social services, and which might have prevented people dying. Millions of dollars were also spent on car races. This was the government that chose to offer corporate welfare through exemptions, concessions and incentives. This is continuing in the current government, as I understand it. I am waiting for an analysis of that.

It is not just as simple as admitting that we have unmet need in the disability sector, then throwing one's hands up in exasperation and saying, "But what can we do?" There was plenty they could have done. They had an overarching economic policy that they chose to support. That was their major policy statement. It is never as simple as the minister would have had us believe. It never is simple, of course.

On the question of the senior bureaucrats named, of course there have been allegations by them of procedural unfairness. I will not go into that. As Mr Speaker has pointed out, it is not appropriate and those allegations are being examined in the court. However,

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