Page 4772 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 10 November 2009

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comments that have come from the opposition since my appointment to the frontbench. I cannot say that I am very surprised, since the Liberals have a reputation for being particularly negative and lazy and have little idea of what good governance is about.

I will start with a release put out on 30 October, particularly where it implied that if I did not receive a portfolio in health, police or education I would not have a major portfolio under my belt. I wonder how the vulnerable feel about the Liberals’ comments—the children without parents, those with a disability, those caring for those with a disability, the homeless. What would the opposition say to these Canberrans? That their concerns are less important than an IR or a corrections matter?

I wonder how the people of the ACT feel when the opposition say that areas under my responsibility are light on, that they have no substance. The opposition have little regard for our multicultural community, for the women in our community, for the people accessing concessions. Are the opposition really saying that childcare, child protection, ageing, therapy and youth services are considered to be of lesser importance? I would say that they are not. I would say that the families accessing one of the 15,000 places in childcare would not agree either.

The fact is that the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services have over 1,000 professionals working. They are dedicated day after day to the safety and wellbeing of some of the most disadvantaged in our community. As their minister, I see the labelling of this dedication and these professionals—these front-line workers—as being light on or of lesser importance as a slap in the face to the DHCS community. It is a heartless insult to those on the front line who work day in and day out actually making a difference.

Today the opposition are calling the portfolio line-up that I have been assigned a light load. I am just wondering why the portfolio responsibilities that I am carrying on my own are split between four shadow ministers. They are now in my mind the light load Liberals themselves.

While the opposition are dreaming up more of this nonsense, I will be finding ways to implement the new portable long service leave scheme for workers in the childcare sector. I will be working with families to make sure that all children are as safe as possible. I will be coordinating with the Attorney-General to prevent violence against women through the ministerial council.

I know what hard work is. I know what the department’s responsibilities are. I know the range of programs they deliver. I am committed to making decisions in the best interests of my portfolio and the important community members they represent. If you take the depth of the portfolios and programs, they are a good part of the ACT.

You have been dismissive of our multicultural community, our child protection services, our ageing community, those accessing childcare services, those family and support services. It beggars belief that you would consider that a light load. It shows your inability to grasp the complexity of what the department actually does. I will be reminding the light load Liberals of their inability to understand the social services that the department provides.

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