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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2378 ..



Simply be truthful with the people, Minister. Do not keep them hanging on. Many of them know, in their heart of hearts, what is going to happen to the Currong Apartments. We cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Just let the people know-be truthful with them. Other than that, as I say, there are some good initiatives. There are areas where money should have been spent, and I have alluded to those areas.


(10.20): I will touch on a few points under this departmental appropriation. The waiting list for assessment by the Child Health and Development Service is of ongoing concern. I recognise that the government is trying to deal with the backlog of children awaiting assessment.

In view of the fact that the problem cannot be resolved quickly, it does not seem fair to continue to deny children on the waiting list access to support services. Denying services to children now creates a bigger problem down the track-and the cost to the individuals concerned is impossible to quantify.

The money allocated to action on homelessness in laudable, but I am concerned that too little has been allocated to assisting people who are currently in acute housing stress, who may end up homeless in the near future. This is an important point. There was a lot of discussion by the Affordable Housing Task Force about those in housing stress.

We have been targeting the people who are currently homeless. Focus is needed on that, because these people are sleeping rough. There are a number of people in our community who exist from day to day in housing stress, not knowing whether they will be able to pay their rents, rates or mortgages in the coming week. These people, who are trying to manage their families and their houses, are constantly on the cusp of poverty and homelessness. There are a great number of people in our community who need our support to stay in their homes so they don't become people who need our crisis services. We must support them so they do not live in a cycle of poverty and stress.

I hope this is something to which the government pays more attention in the future. I am also disappointed that the government held off expending allocated community housing funds until right near the end of the current financial year. I hope the money allocated for implementing the Affordable Housing Task Force recommendations is expended promptly in the coming year.

The impact of the introduction of full retail contestability in the electricity market is an issue of ongoing concern. Although I appreciate that the government has softened the blow to small customers by introducing a transition scheme with a regulated tariff, I am unsure that the tiny allocation of $245,000 for expanding electricity concessions will be adequate to ensure that lower income customers are not adversely affected. I will be monitoring this issue, to see how it impacts on our community, in the coming year.

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