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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3021 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

needs to be addressed. They need to know it now so that they can address the needs of their children, so that they will not be a drain on the ACT budget and the Commonwealth budget year in and year out, because they did not receive the appropriate early intervention that they needed.

MS TUCKER (11.52): I must say I find it quite extraordinary to listen to Liberal Party members talking as if they were not the government for the last seven years-the government that refused to make investments in preventative care, and that received my report on education for children with a disability but did not actually take any action on the lack of therapists for students with a disability.

The issue of therapists-speech pathologists and physiotherapists, in schools particularly-has been a matter of grave concern and one that I have raised. We have had a whole committee inquiry basically looking at that matter. We at least now have a government that is acknowledging these needs. When a party that was in opposition goes into government, it is exposed to different and more information, and you can kind of understand why they seem to change their position a bit, although it is suspicious on occasions. But I find it amazing how a party that was in government and has become the opposition can so clearly ignore everything that it was responsible for for the previous seven years. It is as if they decide, "Well, we won't have any corporate memory here, we won't remember anything that we took responsibility for, unless it was good, and, if it wasn't good, then it wasn't us."

Mrs Dunne has said, "That wasn't me." I heard her say that yesterday. But we know very well that you were in this Assembly and you were advising Gary Humphries. You are very well aware of what happened in this place and what the Liberal Party did when in government.

I agree with Mrs Dunne in that I do not think that there is enough money, still, going into disabilities. I understand, of course, the constraints of the budget but, once again, as I said to the Liberal government and I say to the Labor government, there are questions about priorities that are always going to be raised in a budget debate. I think that we now see quite a lot of work being done, but there is a lot for which we do not know yet what the outcomes actually will be. There are a number of changes yet to come through the system.

We can expect the government response to the Gallop report in a couple of months. We should get a better idea of the work of the new Disability Reform Group around the same time. And government will shortly conduct a review of watchdog agencies, as recommended by the Reid inquiry. I understand that the Disability Reform Group is also looking at complaints. I am not quite sure how these processes fit with each other and maybe the minister can actually enlighten us on that.

We also, of course, see the coroner's inquests that relate to the Gallop report still in train, and I think that some very concerning evidence has been given there. The real questions that need to be asked are about the actual culture in disabilities, and how we will be able to be sure that the new department will manage to attract and keep good staff. Of course, while the extra money is useful, indeed essential, we still do not really know what the outcomes will be.

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