Page 2584 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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for doing so. It is a reality with programs such as the individual support services and ultimately the packages that the minister was only able to deliver funding to address some of the backlog. In reality, the apparent new program of the 2005-06 budget to increase the number of people receiving an individual support package from approximately 165 to around 175 is simply allocating funding to the applicants who are severely disabled and who missed out in the previous funding round. As my colleague Mr Seselja said, we welcome that, minister—it is great—but there is a need to do more. I know that the minister is going to talk about that in a moment.

Whilst it will obviously always remain difficult to appropriate further funding for unmet need in this sector, I believe that the government has underestimated and not addressed the issues early enough—given, as I have previously mentioned, that it has known about the many areas of unmet need for over three years—in order to be in a position to prioritise funding and then deliver crucial services that the tax paying community would expect. As a shining example, the provision of individual support packages is an area that the government unequivocally should provide for, to ensure that it is aiding and improving the quality of life of people with a disability in the ACT.

I note and welcome that the minister is accepting some of the major reforms highlighted in the Gallop report in relation to offering individual support arrangements for people with a disability. I am concerned that with more focus being placed on the need for funding, which will be difficult to find in the coming lean budgetary years, the families applying for funding packages will still continue to be forced to compete with each other to receive vital ongoing support. As this government will be faced with some lean budgetary years ahead, I will continue to observe, with interest, how the minister for disability services will manage to convince his ministerial colleagues of the value of a sustained funding commitment to the sector, a sector which ultimately relies quite heavily on government support and which quite rightly deserves greater assistance.

In closing, I believe that the budget really fails overall to hit the mark sufficiently in addressing issues such as individual support packages, assistance for ageing parents caring for a child with a disability and wheelchair accessible taxis, to name but three. Disability, housing and community services is a portfolio on which I believe the Stanhope government needs to place far more emphasis and greater focus in terms of front-end funding, not simply bandaid solutions.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.48): I am going to begin by talking about housing because it is the area of greatest failure in this budget. Despite repeatedly acknowledging that there is a crisis in affordable housing, and expressing a commitment to address this situation, the government has failed to deliver on a number of key election promises, including additional capital injections for public housing of in the order of $10 million a year for three years, funding in the order of $4 million to retrofit some public housing for energy efficiency, and new and expanded programs to assist people to enter and maintain private and public tenancies.

When presenting the budget, the Treasurer made the statement that a number of indicators support the view that housing affordability in the ACT has been improving since the middle of last year. In the estimates committee hearings we established that he was referring to one key indicator, the AMP and Real Estate Institute of Australia home loan affordability measure. I should point out that the Treasurer indicated to the

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