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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2305 ..



When we asked Volunteering ACT how they might deal with a 20 per cent cut in their overall budget, I think the answer was: "Well, in desperation we would only answer four calls in five."This is not the way to build and grow our community. This is not how you have a civil society. We have money in the budget for spin doctors but we have taken money out of the budget for volunteering.

There are other issues in this budget, Mr Speaker. Ms Tucker talked today about the lack of commitment from this government to the SACS award. But really the issue that I want to deal with is the state of accommodation occupied by volunteer organisations. Across town people in the community sector are housed in old schools, old halls and abandoned offices of a sort that members of this place, ACT public servants and people in the private sector would not deign to occupy because they are cold and draughty, they leak, they are unsafe, the electricals are not great and there are computer cords running all over the place. There is a paltry $400,000 in the budget this year for the upgrading of those facilities.

But when you go through the budget department by department, there is a million dollars here and a million dollars there for the upgrading of public service accommodation. Public servants should be working in good accommodation. However, we pay the community sector a paltry amount to do so much of the work that governments cannot afford to do, will not do, find too difficult to do or are not set up to do and then we expect them to work under substandard conditions as well. This is a disgrace.

This issue has been brought to the attention of the Estimates Committee and there is next to nothing in the budget to address it. This is why we really should be looking at the priorities in the Chief Minister's Department. It is why I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the spin doctors, or should I say the "enhanced whole of government communications strategy". Instead of enhancing the way that these people sell their story, they should be out there providing services to the community. The $250,000 this year and the $1.1 million dollars over the next four years would be better off spent in the community where it would reap benefits to the people of the ACT rather than having them brainwashed by the spin of this government.


(Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (4.05): Mr Speaker, I want to say only a couple of words in relation to this line in general. I have to say that, bearing in mind the record of the previous government on the subject of the SACS award, I am amazed at Mrs Dunne's reference to the community sector. But still, I guess if you can reinvent history like Mr Stefaniak did earlier, anything is possible.

The one thing I do want to tentatively refer to is Volunteering ACT. I stand here as a former director of Volunteering ACT, as a former chairman of the finance committee, as someone who in fact organised the upgrade of their record keeping, arranged for a free suite of software and set up their systems. I know they do a worthy job. I know Mary Porter very well and her husband, Ian De Landelles-I have known them for many years. I understand that Ian is now working for the volunteer centre as well.

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