Page 4530 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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The recommendations involving the easing of visa restrictions should be extended to bachelor degrees offered by TAFE institutes, and consideration also should be given to other VET qualifications in areas of skill shortage. In particular, the post-study work visa would be useful in attracting students to courses at CIT and keeping them in our city after they graduate, to fill areas of critical skill shortage in the local economy.

DR BOURKE: A supplementary.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, does the government intend to approach the commonwealth to further ease visa restrictions?

MR BARR: Yes, it is a top priority for the government.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Le Couteur.

MS LE COUTEUR: What impact does the government think the increased population due to the visa easing will have on the ACT and its growth rate?

MR BARR: It will fuel some important economic growth, provide prosperity for Canberrans and provide a diverse employment base in a sustainable way.

Community Services Directorate—payment of accounts

MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, the ACT Public Advocate, in her interim report on her review of the emergency response strategy for children in crisis in the ACT, outlined the sequence of events that occurred in relation to the non-government organisation whose treatment by the government sparked her review. That chronology involved the refusal of the directorate to pay moneys owing to the NGO, the immediate return of children to the directorate by the NGO and suspension by the directorate of the use of the NGO for service delivery. All of that occurred in the space of three days. Minister, what assurance can you give that the NGO was not suspended from service in retribution for returning children to the department because they could not get payment for outstanding invoices?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Doszpot for his question. There was not a refusal to make payment. There was non-agreement about the amount being sought. There were significant moneys involved. The price was not formally negotiated, and I think that has led to clear misunderstanding. I am disappointed in that, but I think that anyone who entered into that arrangement should be very clear about the cost of that service on both sides. We have paid, on 30 September, an amount of money that is beyond dispute. I have instructed the directorate today to make remedy and to resolve the outstanding payments as a matter of urgency.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Doszpot.

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