Page 2583 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005
delivery of reports that have highlighted some deficiencies; for example, the Gallop report on disability services. I note—and this is in no particular order, but I want to highlight them—recommendations 14, 15 and 16. I am very pleased to see those, I have to say, in the report on the estimates hearings.
Although the government sought to provide a breakdown of evidence on how funding was being matched to areas of unmet need and service delivery improvement, it appears that, as always, more can be done, with apparently little progress being made in areas such as the auditing of government services in order to monitor whether there is room for more improvement. Staffing is another issue. It has been of concern to many in the sector that, for example, the government is taking longer than expected not only to implement programs that will improve the quality of training of people, but also to target funds through recruitment programs that will significantly impact upon the actual services that can be delivered.
It is difficult to understand why, therefore, the minister would seek to have funds transferred from a recruitment program in Therapy ACT to have more professionally trained staff working in their chosen field, helping people in the community, to a capital works program within a facility which, I have no doubt, also needs funding. Surely capital works should be a separate funding stream from funding for delivering upon government outputs, that is, funding real services that will assist people in need. It may well be the case—I think the minister alluded to it himself—that both the capital works improvements and staffing levels in the disability sector require the same level of focus and attention, but one surely should not come at the cost of the other.
The estimates committee asked the government to reassess how it allocates funding in relation to an inquiry reporting process and ensures that it can demonstrate a distinct link between how funds are allocated, with justification, to address any specific recommendations. I allude particularly to recommendation 14. That would appear to be a logical solution to clarifying, not only for the Assembly but also for people within the community, how funding is to be allocated to programs that will directly impact upon them. The public would expect and, more to the point, deserve to have clarity and transparency, and a very firm commitment to backing up rhetoric with the funding, in order to address areas of community or disability services to those most in need of further financial assistance.
There is a political reality to be faced, I am sure, by the minister when charged with finding particularly funding solutions to complex issues and having to find a balance in appeasing certain sectors of the community. At the same time, I realise that the minister also faces the extreme disappointment and frustration of not securing further desperately needed funds for his portfolio area, one that should be given greater status by this government. It would seem that this sector misses out at the expense of the Chief Minister’s pet projects. He appears to be much more concerned with posturing and grandstanding by pursuing projects such as the arboretum and the Human Rights Act.
Mr Quinlan: You don’t like our arboretum, do you?
MRS BURKE: The Treasurer is nodding. I am glad he is agreeing. During the delivery of the budget, I welcomed some new initiatives that would assist in sustaining areas in the disability sector that must have ongoing funding and I commended the government