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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 February 2015) . . Page.. 532 ..

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.44): I will be supporting Ms Porter’s motion today and I welcome her bringing it forward and the opportunity to discuss the matters contained in her motion. The federal Abbott government’s first budget presented a narrow-minded vision for a harder, meaner, dumber, poorer Australia. The biggest hits were on the most vulnerable in our community—young people, the elderly and the sick. Along with sweeping cuts to the public service, the budget has hit these Canberrans hard. I am particularly concerned by elements such as cuts to welfare support for our young people that put at risk the financial wellbeing of those under 30 and increase the risk of homelessness, issues impacting on aged pensioners, cuts to universities and student funding and the cuts to single-parent payments.

I would particularly like to focus on community organisations as opposed to some of those individual impacts, because that is the essence of Ms Porter’s motion. It is actually the community organisations that will bear the brunt of those impacts on individuals because they will be the ones who are there to support them. It is worth looking at a couple of different sectors where we have seen a particularly harsh impact.

I will firstly focus on the housing and homelessness sector, which we were discussing earlier today. We are seeing the national rental affordability scheme with a discontinuation of incentive allocations, the national homelessness research strategy with reduced funding and, as I discussed earlier, the national partnership agreement on homelessness with simply a 12-month extension. The budget provided a stay of execution to the majority of the nation’s housing and homelessness providers for at least a year, but certainly plenty of question marks remain.

With the large national affordable housing agreement funding pool and the national partnership agreement on homelessness transitional agreement to remain for the next 12 months, now more than ever the sector and the ACT government will need to work together to prepare and engage with federal policy directions to ensure the ACT does not lose out any further in the coming years.

The cessation of the national rental affordability scheme round 5 allocations will not have an immediate effect on the ACT affordable housing sector’s growth, but the announcement that it will be reviewed will cause some providers to rethink any future construction at a time when this activity is actually needed. It was disappointing and slightly paradoxical, however, to see that funding for homelessness research has been cancelled just as the federal government calls for more review and evaluation of programs. I do not know where they think this information is going to come from; it seems an odd decision.

I would also like to mention the Community Housing Federation of Australia, an organisation that does some excellent work in its area of expertise. Its funding ends in June this year. This is an example of another important advocacy organisation which is facing an uncertain future.

We then turn to the legal aid and community legal centre area. Cuts to legal services and community legal centres mean that those who most need support in difficult times

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