Page 1652 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 April 2009

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MR HARGREAVES: What are we seeing, Mr Speaker—a leadership challenge? Good luck, Mr Hanson!

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary question?

MR SESELJA: Minister, can you guarantee that the AMC is now safe enough to receive prisoners?

MR HARGREAVES: I have every confidence in the people who have built the prison, BLL. I have every confidence that the subcontractors, Chubb, have found the solutions that they needed to find to enable the prison to operate and function quite safely for prisoners, for the officers, for visitors and for the general community. I have every confidence that, as we go down the next 12 months and we receive all of the prisoners in there, it will be a signature facility.

This is the second most significant social justice imperative and initiative that the Stanhope Labor government has delivered to this city—after the Human Rights Act. Make no mistake about it. And these people seek to deride it. Why don’t you accept the fact that we are doing the right thing and bringing our prisoners home? Why don’t you accept that we are doing the right thing and closing down the BRC as quickly as we can? Why don’t you come with us on this journey instead of apologising for your lack of policies on it? If you can do a better job, put a policy together and share it with the rest of Canberra, because right now you haven’t got one.

Budget—community sector

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Treasurer and it concerns the upcoming budget. Treasurer, can you give those working under additional pressure in the community sector an assurance that in the upcoming budget funding will not only be maintained at present levels but may be adjusted to take into account the increasing demand for their services?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Hunter for the question. It is a difficult one to answer, five weeks out from delivering the budget, in the sense that budget deliberations are still ongoing and final sign-off on the budget has not been agreed to by cabinet. But I can say that cabinet has been extremely mindful of—and I said this yesterday—our role in supporting jobs in the ACT. We can do that through our own employment in the ACT public service, in employment largely in community organisations where our grants are either the only source of income or, alongside the commonwealth income, are a significant proportion of those grants to those organisations, and in our capital infrastructure on how we invest in private sector jobs in the territory.

That has been very much at the core of discussions that ministers have been having in budget cabinet, acknowledging that we do have pressure on our budget, largely outside of the control of the ACT government, but certainly pressure is there. We are expecting a pretty tough 12 to 18 months before the national economy begins to recover and we have a key role to play in supporting employment and supporting services in the community.

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