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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1767 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

In conclusion, we cannot say that the government has come to terms with the scale of the housing crisis in this budget. The plan to construct the old women's hostel is still on the books, although we do not yet have the facility. Indeed, there are no new initiatives that target women's needs.

Funding for mental health outreach is an important step but, in common with the education moves, we would like to be sure that the money will go to work in the community sector. Winnunga Nimmityjah, the Aboriginal health service, is sorely underfunded. A statement tabled in the Legislative Assembly on behalf of the Health Committee before this budget made the point that it had to be looked at in the budget. I am extremely disappointed that it has not been.

We know that the client base has increased significantly over the last year. We know that part of that is a result of the lack of bulkbilling opportunities in Canberra. Winnunga Nimmityjah is not accepting just indigenous people, it does not want to discriminate, and it is now finding that it is looking after more and more people who are very marginalised and socially excluded in our community and who cannot find medical attention anywhere else. That really important work should have been acknowledged in this budget; it is one of the very serious omissions.

The refurbishment of the psychiatric unit is long overdue and the funds provided are welcome. I am just trying to remember what Mr Smyth said on that. It was quite amazing and hypocritical. The work must be informed by the coroner's comments and be designed in consultation with all who use the unit-patients, carers and staff.

The remand centre construction and design proposal is good and it is good that there is attention in the design to requirements for specific groups within the population, women and other minority groups, but construction has been put off until next year and the need is urgent. The government could have been working on the design issues during the past year. This is certainly more urgent than the convention centre construction.

I look forward to carrying out investigations through the estimates process of a lot of these issues. I conclude with that tonight.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (5.51), in reply: I thank all members for their comments, I truly do, because if you distil them down you will find that the budget still stands up well, despite, as one would expect, a fair bit of huff and puff, a bit of theatre and a bit of indignation. I think that the budget does stand up as a good budget. It has had a resounding endorsement from a lot of the stakeholders, those that do not have particular political posturing to do. If we dilute or discount the political posturing, I think the budget has stood up well.

One of the things that concern me is that Mr Smyth's speech began with a verbal and ended with misinformation being provided to this place. A couple of times since the budget was brought down Mr Smyth has said that this government promised to be a low-taxing government. We are a relatively low-taxing government, says the grants commission.

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