Page 2307 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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Mr Hargreaves’s branch—about this project long before it became publicly known, but they could not actually bring themselves to tell the people who voted for them, who put them in this job and who pay their salaries. Mr Gentleman has been strangely quiet about the relocation of Symonston house, and he has been strangely quiet about the plonking of a gas-fired power station very close to his constituency, slap-bang on the edge of Tuggeranong. I know that the Lanyon branch, which I think is Mr Hargreaves’s branch, were briefed on this, so perhaps Mr Gentleman can tell the Assembly whether he arranged for a briefing for his Kambah branch as well so that we can see how consultative the Stanhope government was in relation to the comrades as opposed to the mere constituents.

Overall there is some good work and some good initiatives in this budget. I want to pay tribute to the people who work in the Department of Disability and Community Services who I have dealings with. I respect their professionalism; I respect the work that they do; I encourage them because they do important work for some of the most vulnerable people in the ACT. It behoves all members of this place to give them their support as much as possible for the good of all members of the ACT.

Just briefly, I have to comment on the women’s budget statement, which is one of my bugbears in a way. It is not that I do not think that we should have a women’s budget statement, but it should actually be effective. We manage to debase the currency by saying anything that affects everyone in the community affects women and, therefore, we will put basically everything in the women’s budget statement. For example, the gold pass surrender initiative affects everyone, men and women alike, but it is put in the women’s budget statement. Another example is community sector portable long service leave, which is a very welcome initiative, but it is actually about men and women who work in the community sector. Perhaps the community sector is more biased towards women, but it is not necessarily solely a women’s organisation.

I would rather that the women’s budget statement actually addressed women’s initiatives rather than this approach of thinking of everything that affects people and, because 50 per cent of people are women, they should be put in the women’s budget statement. I think it debases the currency. I think it is a good thing to have, but I think more thought should be put in to how it is presented.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (9.05): Following up on Mrs Dunne’s comments, perhaps we should find out the depth of the government’s duplicity on these briefings to Labor branches on the gas-fired power station. Comrades over constituents, hey, boys? Comrades over constituents—it is a new acronym—COC.

I will refer to multicultural affairs as a sub-element of this line item. Firstly, it is certainly noted and certainly welcomed to see the increase from $313,000 to $413,000 for the operational expenditure of the running of the multicultural festival. But, on the evidence, I would have to qualify my warmth about this and say that the feeling is that we are still about $50,000 short per annum for the running of the festival. That is the feeling coming back from leaders in the community. That is because the festival, because of its success, has grown significantly in recent years, as have the donor support opportunities. There is no question about that. However, budgeting for the operational costs has not really kept pace with the growth of the festival. Some of the peak bodies are still struggling to keep up with the costs that they have to bear as well.

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