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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1703 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The attack on our disabled is the meanest we have seen for years. Quite simply, 180,000 people are being forced from the disability support pension on to Newstart. This will immediately remove $52 a fortnight from their allowance, and then they will wait. Many we will be breached because of the harsh breaching processes of Centrelink. Then they will be left with nothing.

Yes, there is something in the budget for youth. Youth allowance records will be linked with parents and siblings on pensions or other payments-again, more focus on tools to breach disadvantaged young people in our community. What a great initiative for youth!

The budget does not acknowledge the serious problems that exist in higher education. Ten universities had a negative balance in 2000 and, according to data released by the Department of Education, Science and Technology this week, staff/student ratios were deteriorating again in 2001. If this Treasurer wants to look forward 40 years, he is not doing it with foresight for our universities. If Mr Costello will not properly invest in universities, where will the graduates and new knowledge that will create new jobs over the next 40 years come from?

As I mentioned yesterday, the women's budget statement is more about families than it is about women. This year's women's budget statement has as much information about how the government spent the money they targeted for women's programs last year as any information about new initiatives in this budget.

Also disappointing to see in the new federal budget is the $9.9 million funding for a nuclear waste dump.

This federal budget ignored women, students and the environment. They were just not on the agenda this year.

MS TUCKER (11.40): We have not had time to do a full critique of the federal budget, but there are a few key points that people have already addressed or not addressed in this debate. I am still waiting for Liberals here who are defending this budget to respond to concerns about the disability proposals. If you talk to anybody who has a disability or supports people with a disability or cares about the issue, it is pretty clear that this is appalling.

It is quite sneaky for the federal government to suggest that they are putting extra money into the disability sector. They were going to withdraw funding. Now they have said they will not withdraw it, and they are calling it new money. As Ms Gallagher pointed out, the mere continuation of money that it would have been impossible for them to pull out without meeting incredible flak is not going to meet unmet demand.

They said they had put this money in for a period of time, so they realised they could not pull it out. They said they would not pull it out, so they said it was new money. People know that is nonsense, and they know that there is unmet demand in the area. A government that disregards the plight of vulnerable people in the community in that way has to be condemned.

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