Page 394 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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MS GALLAGHER: It is about misleading the Assembly. I answered the question on the 23rd or I did not.

MRS DUNNE:—with the Community Advocate’s report, which says that 70 per cent of reports are overdue? The answer she has just given says we are not meeting the time lines. How does the minister reconcile all those conflicting pieces of information? When did she first become aware that section 267 of the Children and Young People Act was not being complied with and what did she do about it?

MS GALLAGHER: The answer I gave related to a question that was asked of me on 24 June. The information I had at that time was that all obligations were being met. So I think it is quite important to get the date right if we are talking about whether I misled the Assembly. I will be a bit pedantic about that. The information I gave the Assembly at that time was correct. In fact, I think my words were:

As far as I am aware, yes, I can. I have sought advice on that and have been advised that those obligations are being met.

I will check in relation to any briefs I have about 267, because I am not going to pretend I can rattle off the exact date. It may have been through a discussion with the Community Advocate. I am having regular contact with her office and with her about providing information to me, so I will check that date. The opposition should get a grip on what is happening in child protection and understand the overhaul that is occurring in that agency—an agency that was funded at $19 million a year when this government came to office. Its annual budget is now $59 million. It was so underresourced it was like a skeleton.

We have this huge piece of legislation that Mr Stefaniak—or it might have been Mr Moore—was responsible for, and no support was given to the agency. More obligations were placed on the agency and there was less capacity to meet them. There were no injections of any noticeable amounts to relieve some of the pressures that that agency was experiencing. It was left to this government to inject the money into it, this government to have an inquiry, this government to set the process of reform and to make sure we are doing the right thing by children and young people in the territory; yet members opposite still try to get my head for it. They still try to trick me into saying maybe I said this or maybe I knew that. They have to get with the program that this government is reforming the care and protection system, a process I have said a number of times will take several years due to the neglect of members of the opposition when they were in government.

Small Business Commissioner

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Economic Development, Mr Quinlan. Minister, as part of the economic white paper, the government committed itself to the establishment of a Small Business Commissioner in the ACT. Minister, could you please bring the Assembly up to date on the appointment of the ACT’s first Small Business Commissioner?

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