Page 2665 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 7 August 2013

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MR COE (Ginninderra) (5.12): I, too, stand to reaffirm the support which Ms Lawder offered for this motion moved by Mr Gentleman. Common Ground is a unique and special proposal which does have the potential to offer tremendous services to some of the most vulnerable in our community. I would like to lend the opposition’s support for the work that Elizabeth Dawson has done. I know that Gwen Wilcox has been a passionate advocate for Common Ground as well and has certainly been in touch with my office and me about the many benefits that Common Ground will offer Canberra.

I would like to commend Ms Lawder for her contribution to today’s debate and for the passion, expertise and knowledge she brings to this subject area and many others. I think that was quite evident in her response on behalf of the opposition to this motion today and also in her maiden speech yesterday. The experience that she brings is something that I think is unparalleled here in the Assembly, and it is something that I hope we will all be able to take advantage of over the remainder of the term.

It is important to note that Common Ground is not a silver bullet. It is not going to solve all of our problems here in the ACT. It is very important that we do not overpromise or oversell the benefits of Common Ground. I am by no means saying that we should do the opposite, but we have to be very realistic about what it is actually going to deliver. The sheer fact that the ACT government has committed funds to it, along with other agencies and organisations, including the federal government, does not mean that the hard work is over. Of course, there are going to be issues with construction. There are going to be issues with operations. And we have to be vigilant to ensure that they are managed properly.

We also have to ensure that Common Ground does not simply steal finances or attention from other programs. It is very important that the spotlight does not shift from other homelessness programs here in the ACT to Common Ground. We have to ensure that, in actual fact, the spotlight broadens rather than actually shifts.

I do commend Mr Gentleman for this motion and, as I said earlier, I, too, would like to reaffirm the support for the motion.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (5.15): I would also like to speak briefly on Mr Gentleman’s motion. My colleagues have outlined the benefits of the Common Ground project in supporting the ACT government’s goal of reducing homelessness through early intervention and prevention, and a better integrated service system through seeking to break the cycle.

The ACT government has been involved with a number of projects that have proved that, where there is a common goal, government, business and the community sector are able to work very well together to enhance outcomes. Indeed we spoke of such activities yesterday when talking about philanthropy in our city.

I hope there will be further opportunities for organisations in the private and community sector to talk about collaboration on new models of housing in the

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