Page 516 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

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again, not the Liberal Party. They built their 2012 election campaign around opposition to improving housing affordability. We have rejected that approach, and I am proud to lead a government that backs its commitment to the community with actions.

My advice today is that if those opposite really wish to demonstrate their commitment to improving public housing, improving housing affordability and tackling homelessness, they should do the same. I commend Ms Berry’s amendment to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.49): At around this time each year, we in the Assembly often see a range of motions similar to Ms Lawder’s, drawing on the information provided by the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services, otherwise known as ROGS.

There is a flurry of media releases from all sides of politics when ROGS is released, extolling how we are the highest or the lowest, the best or the worst, or the least or the most expensive in a range of domains. I include the Greens in this space, as ROGS represents a great snapshot of the territory’s performance in our own right as well as in comparison with other jurisdictions. It serves to remind us of our successes, and also to challenge us to respond better in areas that may have fallen short of community expectations.

That said, there are some areas on which it is difficult for the ACT to be judged in direct comparison to other states. Issues of percentage versus raw numbers of population are a major headache for us, as very small increases in actual people receiving services can dramatically change the count. Similar things apply in the corrections space, for example, where our assault percentages can be influenced by literally a couple of incidents, thus dramatically changing the percentage in the ROGS figures. Nonetheless, Ms Lawder raises some issues that I know about all too well, from my own time as the Minister for Housing. These issues do require constant vigilance and an ongoing strong commitment to address them.

Housing stress is a very real issue for Canberra, and I think we can all agree on that. The same can be said of increased need for all forms of social and public housing, enhanced responses to homelessness and reducing exits from allied services to homelessness—all points Ms Lawder raised, and that Minister Berry proposed in her amendment to respond to by providing information to the Assembly.

What Ms Lawder failed to mention in her motion that has been captured by Minister Berry’s amendment is the ongoing uncertainty in relation to commonwealth finding. This is an incredibly important matter and a clear and present danger to local services and vulnerable Canberrans. Failing to recognise that, or at best overlooking it in a debate on this subject, can be most generously described as negligent.

We in the ACT cannot ever forget how reliant we are on the federal government’s policies and funding. But it is fair to say that the current climate of short-sighted, inconsistent and sporadic policy on the run announcements we are seeing from the Abbott government are having a cumulative and disastrous effect on the morale and sustainability of our local NGO workforce, as much as on the public service.

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