Page 2090 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 June 2015

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It is important not to lose our focus on this issue. We have all been confronted with the realities of ongoing and systemic domestic violence that occurs in our community, and we cannot afford to put this issue in the problem-solved basket yet. The funding that has been allocated will help with what is currently extra demand. We will need to have a continued and renewed focus before we start to see domestic violence rates drop.

I welcome the $615,000 allocated for education programs to work with children to shift attitudes and help break the cycle of domestic violence. I hope the Education and Training Directorate will work closely with those in the sector who have the expertise to offer in this area to ensure that money goes as far as possible. It is important funding that will hopefully help shift the underlying attitudes towards women that we know contribute to domestic violence in our community.

In terms of climate change, the environment and other environmental issues, I welcome the ongoing funding for the upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch program, which I mentioned earlier. It has funding of $1.4 million over four years. The Waterwatch program plays a valuable role in monitoring water quality in the ACT, fundamental to any of the spending that will be undertaken as part of the federal government $85 million grant that has been provided to the ACT. This funding makes up part of the 10 per cent co-funding commitment from the ACT under the federal agreement. Given the federal requirement for their money to go towards infrastructure only, this is a sensible use of the ACT’s contribution.

When it comes to matters of justice, I am pleased about funding for justice reform, and the ACT’s commitment to a broader justice reinvestment approach, but I will speak more about this in the detail stage in August. The continued funding for the Street Law service is most welcome. Street Law provides an invaluable service in Canberra, assisting people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. It was established through the 2008 parliamentary agreement.

Despite the additional funding that has been provided to legal aid—welcome, of course—there is still more work to be done in this space. Community legal services are not only necessary but excellent value for money. I put on the record my disappointment that we could not find in this budget a small amount of support for the ACT Environmental Defenders Office, which is struggling due to the harsh federal funding cuts that are part of the federal government’s attempts to undermine anybody who might disagree with it.

At the same time as the ACT community legal centres battle against closure, the DPP requires significant amounts of money to conduct a retrial, potentially, of Mr David Eastman. It is hard not to at least wonder about the best justice outcome from the expenditure of this sort of money.

I am pleased to see the expenditure committed in this budget to the refurbishment of the National Convention Centre to keep that important facility in good shape as we continue the discussion on moving forward the Australia forum, ready for procurement status.

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