Speech - Ministerial Statement of Priorities 2018

February 15, 2018

Madam Speaker, in considering my priorities for 2018 across my busy and diverse portfolios, I see a full and exciting year ahead with much to do – certainly more than can be accounted for in a short statement this morning but I will do my best to provide some information about key areas.

As Attorney-General I will be continuing in my mission to building a justice system that is even more accessible, timely, and transparent.

The Government remains strongly committed to a justice system where its multiple, complex components work in harmony. This requires us to take a holistic approach to change – to consider flow-on effect to other parts of the system when one component is changed. Already in this term of government we have provided additional resources to the community legal centres, the DPP and Legal Aid, reflecting that an accessible, transparent and timely justice system requires comprehensive investment. We will continue to take this approach.

My law reform and policy development agenda for 2018 will be focused on ensuring that our legislation and services support the most vulnerable people in our community. Over the next year, I will be introducing legislation and consulting on reforms that represent a commitment to restorative practices.

The Drug and Alcohol Court is one example of that restorative focus. We are developing a new Court that will offer intervention, treatment, and support for people whose involvement in the criminal justice system is primarily the result of addiction.

A central piece of our work in 2018 will be responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Changes to our criminal laws and court procedures following from the Commission’s report will ensure that our treatment of survivors in the Court process, criminal and civil, is based on the Royal Commission’s thorough examination of the latest evidence.

I will continue to work with my Commonwealth, State, and Territory colleagues to develop a Redress Scheme that will provide real, tangible compensation and support to survivors of sexual abuse.

Another area where I will continue to direct significant energy is in gambling harm minimisation, working in partnership with our community clubs to encourage diversification away from gaming machine revenue while working to ensure the long-term sustainability of these organisations which give so much back to the community.  

I will continue to engage with all stakeholders in this area including representatives of clubs and club groups, workers in clubs, people with lived experience of gambling harm, community organisations, academic experts and regulators.

We will work to ensure that the Territory’s gaming regulations continue to offer meaningful and effective harm minimisation, remain up to date with developing technologies and support the Gambling and Racing Commission’s implementation of its public health approach to reducing gambling harm.

This year, the Government will be announcing the way in which we will achieve a reduction in the number of gaming machine authorisations in the Territory. They will come down to 4000 from 4985 by 2020. We will be talking to clubs, to workers, and to members of the community throughout the process.

This is fundamentally a harm minimisation policy, meant to reduce the impact of problem gambling on the community. We will be at the same time looking at ways to support clubs to keep offering their important community services, like sport and recreation. Towards that end, we will this year review the Community Contributions Scheme and look at ways to ensure it is still achieving its purpose.

Following on from this Government’s achievements last year, 2018 will see the end of the greyhound racing industry. The Government’s commitment to end the industry will take effect from 30 April this year. The Greyhound Industry Transition Taskforce will continue taking applications for individually designed transition support packages until 30 June. Funding will be available to be rolled out until to 30 September.

In my capacity as Minister for Regulatory Services, I will continue to work with Access Canberra to make it easier for people to access Government services.. 

While we continue shifting to online delivery where possible, a focus on the person will remain central  and I have asked our agencies to ensure those citizens who are unable to transact with us digitally are not left behind. This year Access Canberra will be working with community organisations to develop new ways of reaching out to these citizens.

The Government also remains committed to ensuring the safety of our citizens. In 2018 Access Canberra will be increasing the proactive focus of its regulatory activities, using data to ensure those industries and businesses where the risk of harm is greatest or with poor compliance histories are targeted. Regulators will be working hard to ensure that businesses and individuals understand their obligations, but those who flout the law and put workers or the community at risk will be penalised.

We will continue with our red tape reduction agenda, and we will  finalise a review of our nation-leading rideshare reforms to ensure we are have an on-demand transport industry that is sustainable, safe and reliable.

As Minister for Arts and Community Events, I am looking forward this year to establishing my new ministerial arts advisory body and to seeing the first official Reconciliation Day take place. We will be focussing on ensuring that Canberra has an exciting, well-coordinated calendar of major and community events to engage locals, and attract interstate and overseas visitors to our great city all year round. This will include bringing more events to the town centres and the suburbs. 

We will also see construction of the Belconnen Arts Centre Stage 2 commence this year; further progress on the Kingston Arts Precinct; and facilities upgrades at numerous arts centres. It is also a priority for me that the Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Consultation Report and Action Plan which have been created in close consultation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are put into effect to help guide how we can further support and improve inclusion in the arts.

As the Minister for Veterans and Seniors, I will continue to advocate that these groups are considered in all decisions by government. We will develop the next iteration of the Active Ageing Framework, which takes into account health, planning, public and active transport, amongst many other areas of government, to ensure our senior Canberrans are able to remain active and connected members of the community. We will also undertake consultations to strengthen our protections against elder abuse.

Last year the Government launched its Veterans Employment Strategy, which we will continue to build on by creating resources to aid transition from military service to civilian employment in the ACT. I also look forward to announcing the ACT Public Service’s first Veterans Employment Champions who will work with government to build the Service to be a model employer of veterans. There is plenty of other work to be done in the veterans space, including work on recognition and commemoration, health and mental health, as well as supports for families that I look forward to rolling out throughout the year.  

So, there is much to do, but it is important work to make our city more just, more accessible, more inclusive and more vibrant.