Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3481 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
It has been said that this bill is a bushfire response appropriation, a McLeod report appropriation. Certainly, the majority of the items in it fit that description. But there are a number of other approaches for funding contained within the appropriation. Money for the acquisition of land and the future use of the Hotel Kurrajong are probably the ones that stand out. The government has been criticised for not sticking those items in the original appropriation bill. The short answer to that is that the figures did not emerge until after that appropriation bill was developed.
It would have been irresponsible and illegal for the Treasurer to have applied the Treasurer's Advance to these initiatives or these opportunities knowing full well the amount and the possibility. They were neither urgent nor unexpected, two of the main planks of the Treasurer's Advance. If anything, the Treasurer should be congratulated on taking the opportunity, given that there was an appropriation bill on the table, to put forward two significant pieces of expenditure when they were known and they were not absolutely urgent.
I think that this appropriation is a responsible seeking of funding from the Assembly. It articulates the main planks of what the government is doing in relation to the bushfire response. It puts forward other issues which have emerged since the appropriation-aerial photography is one of them. When you get a mix-up in the bills, when you get some sort of cost sharing arrangement which was not apparent when the original budget was delivered, and you discover that and wish to do an accounting treatment on it which requires a supplementary appropriation for a particular agency, then it is irresponsible not to do that. I consider this bill to be a most responsible appropriation bill to put before the Assembly and I urge all members to vote for the bill.
MS DUNDAS (10.58): I wish also to speak briefly on the report of the Estimates Committee on this appropriation bill. The first point that I would like to make is that this report was a consensus report. The committee considered the appropriation bill in a lot of detail in the time that it had. I also extend thanks to the people who were able to provide us with information in a timely manner. We made a number of recommendations that are actually about seeking more information and answers as to where the government is progressing in a range of areas and what it is hoping to achieve in a range of areas.
I would like to touch first on what we have said about community groups. The points raised with us by community organisations such as ACTCOSS and FaBRiC were quite valid in that they are always fighting for resources, as are all organisations within government, but they feel that they have to fight harder to do more with less. After the bushfires had had their effect on the community, the community sector stepped up to the plate and took a lot of the burden of that. The needs of their clients increased, but the resources for them to help those clients did not.
The point that ACTCOSS was putting forward was that we need to support our community sector to support the community. The community sector cannot continue to do so in the way that it does with the resources that it has. We need to be aware that we are forcing workers in the community sector to work longer and harder and that they are not getting remunerated adequately for that. The recommendations are quite clear in asking the government to assist the community sector to quantify and identify the impact of the bushfires on it so that we can at least get a figure and know how much more in