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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1256 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

While we acknowledge all that, we can also agree that, at the same time, it is achievable. One of the most positive things for me, as a former worker in this area who had long advocated the need for an inquiry like this, is that we can move on from here and some healing can go on for the families and people who were involved in some of the stuff mentioned in the Gallop report.

The initiatives being undertaken now are pointing disability services in the ACT in the right direction. Importantly, this is being done in consultation with the key stakeholders and, most importantly, the individual service users themselves. There has to be a better way to do things in disability services. Other members have commented on the amount of time it has taken for this government to respond to Gallop-that time in September. But if they understood the complexity of the issues facing the service users, their families and the providers, they would not think that ten months is a long time, considering the systemic issues that we are dealing with and the amount of time they have been around.

Taking time right now for the reform process, holding those consultations and asking the right questions before the government finalises a response is an appropriate thing to do, considering the sensitivity and the complexities of the issues involved. Also, what has always been a problem for any government is that the human services industry is by its nature very expensive. There is no advice on the costings for the recommendations of Gallop, and there is no mechanism for proceeding with them, so that is going to be really difficult.

At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The question for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MS GALLAGHER: Another speaker raised the issue of having effective complaint mechanisms and the ability for people to complain. That is a good point. I would also like to put on the record that you can have all the complaint mechanisms in the world, but people who use the disability program or other disability services often cannot use a complaints mechanism because it is a written document. It is more complex than just rectifying policies; it is working out a way to make sure that the people we are providing the service to are able to access what those policies offer and access those mechanisms. That is all I have to say.

MRS CROSS (5.01): I would like to commend Ms Gallagher for the eight years she spent in the industry. As a former supporter on the periphery of the industry and also a recipient of those services for some time, I value people such as Ms Gallagher.

What can be learned from this inquiry is the difference between the two major parties in their attitude to public servants. The Liberal Party has always valued the work of public servants and kept them outside the political process. Canberra's public servants are dedicated individuals who perform often thankless tasks. The days of the faceless public servant have gone to some extent, but that concept remains.

The Liberals not only defended their attitude to public servants in the face of criticism while in government, but strengthened it. Labor, on the other hand, despite all their rhetoric and feigned passion, have not been consistent on this point. During debates while in opposition, they continually carried out personal attacks on public servants.

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