Page 4516 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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MS BURCH: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for continued interest in the Community Services Directorate. We have had that debate over this morning. The directorate is responsible. The director-general is responsible, as the territory parent, for ensuring that adequate placements and supervisions are in place. As such, though, as minister, I am also responsible for making sure that the department is administered in a proper and fit manner. I have said on occasions here that I started asking questions and seeking information from late June. The placements in question—

Mr Smyth: Late June?

MS BURCH: Sorry, late July. I do apologise; it was late July. I made the mistake of saying June then. The placements ended, as I understand it, in early to mid August. The Public Advocate’s report has raised some concerning findings. I have not stepped back from recognising that. I have not stepped back from committing to providing the government response as a matter of urgency. On the merit of the recommendations, they are worthy and should be progressed. But rest assured that I will work with the directorate to ensure that we have systems. The circumstances that led to the circumstances outlined in the Public Advocate’s report are of concern and there are clear areas for improvement.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary question.

MR SESELJA: Minister, does your directorate act on your behalf in the exercise of its duties?

MS BURCH: I think the directorate acts on behalf of the Canberra community. These are ACT public servants. They are here to serve this government but they are also here to serve the people of Canberra. They work tirelessly, to the best of their efforts, in all aspects of their work. When we find, as any agency will find when it is under a microscope, areas for improvement, it will get on and improve those areas of assistance.

MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne, you have the floor.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, what questions have you asked of your directorate in relation to this breach of the law? When did you ask them and what answers did your directorate give you?

MS BURCH: I do thank Mrs Dunne for her question. It came to my attention that there was occasional use, some use, of unapproved agency staff. That was in late July. It was a minute, a brief, that came to my office on 20 July and I exited out of my office on the 25th. I sought information about whether they met our standards. I kept on going back and seeking more information, as I have said a number of times here. In the end, I had no circumstance, I had no other option, but to call for an independent review. And that is what I have done and that is what we are in the middle of.

MR SMYTH: Supplementary, Mr Speaker.

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