Page 755 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 April 2014

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MR SMYTH: Treasurer, what representations did the government make to the previous Labor government about the 14,457 job cuts detailed in the Gillard-Rudd budgets for the two previous budget periods?

MR BARR: Numerous representations, both to prime ministers Gillard and Rudd and to Treasurer Swan, in relation to the then federal government’s approach to public sector employment. I would note, of course, that the previous federal Labor government increased public sector employment in the ACT. They came to office with around 56,000 public servants employed in the ACT and left office with more than 65,000 public servants employed in the ACT. So the public service in the ACT grew under the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Their record of investment in the ACT economy through the stimulus measures for the global financial crisis saw many hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the ACT’s education system, both public and private, in social housing within the ACT, and also in significant transport projects—for example, the Majura parkway, the Constitution Avenue upgrades and the National Arboretum. There were a significant number of investments by the previous government. The national broadband network, for example, is paying big dividends already in those parts of the city that have enjoyed the benefits of that particular rollout. In fact, I understand that the community that has the single largest take-up of any community in Australia of the national broadband network is here in Canberra, in Gungahlin. I think that reflects the importance of this infrastructure investment in the ACT.

We can only hope that the new communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, also sees the benefit of investment in fast broadband technology and continues its rollout in the ACT. You would like to think, Madam Speaker, that would be one area where there would be bipartisan support. (Time expired.)

Disability services—autism spectrum disorder

MR WALL: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Children and Young People. Minister, Therapy ACT currently facilitates the assessment and diagnosis of people, particularly young children, with autism spectrum disorder. Given your announcement of the phased withdrawal of therapy services following the transition to the NDIS trial on 1 July, what assurances can you provide to those on the waiting list for an ASD assessment and diagnosis that they will not miss out?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Wall for his question on Therapy ACT. It was a significant announcement that the government made last week around how we transition into the NDIS here in the ACT. I think, Mr Wall, you understand and support the transition and that the government should get out of this area and provide more opportunity within the community for disability services to our community.

With regard to Therapy ACT, we have made a commitment to withdraw from special disability services from the end of 2016. We will transfer quite quickly the equipment program. In terms of intake referral and assessment that are currently provided, that is considered part of the mainstream service. That will continue to be provided.

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