Page 2401 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 June 2013

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MR BARR: This happens in every budget and will continue in every budget into the future—

Mr Smyth: But you promised not to cut.

Mr Barr: regardless of who is in government. To respond specifically, although I should not, to Mr Smyth’s interjection, I have said in this place and publicly at least 100 times in the last two or three years that we would maintain the size of the ACT public sector, that there would be growth in some areas that would be offset by reductions in others.

I said that publicly before the election, when I delivered my budget last year, through the pre-election budget update, the mid-year update and I have said it every time this question has been asked. I repeat it again today: we will be providing resources for new initiatives. There is growth in the ACT public sector and this budget stands in marked contrast to what conservative governments have done elsewhere in Australia. (Time expired.)

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, how is the ACT government assisting the sector to develop its capacity?

MR BARR: The government continues to work very closely with the community sector, and my colleagues Minister Burch and Minister Rattenbury and I have just come from the annual ACT Council of Social Services post-budget function. We continue our strong engagement with the sector discussing the challenges and opportunities that are before us in the coming year.

The government and the sector are both very acutely aware that the community services system is on the cusp of major reform, not just in the area of disability through DisabilityCare, but also a desire from government and across the sector to ensure that limited resources are targeted to provide support for vulnerable people and their families.

I have had a focus since becoming community services minister on reducing red tape for the sector. Reducing red tape works for everyone. It increase productivity within government and the sector and it enables the freeing up of resources to target our service delivery to the people who need it most.

And this week I was pleased to announce the ACT government has reached agreement with the commonwealth on the funding that they will provide to support ACT community sector workers through the equal remuneration order. The ACT government has already announced that it will provide $32 million to the sector to bring community sector wages up to the new award rate. The commonwealth government will make a contribution of $25 million.

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