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Wednesday 29 February 2012

THE

Leader’s REPORT Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Parliament House, Harvest Terrace Perth WA 6000 Phone: 9222 7351 • Email: leader@loop.wa.gov.au • Web: www.walaborleader.org.au

Financial counsellors cut as more seek help

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ESPITE an increase of nearly 10,000 referrals to financial counsellors in the last financial year due to increases to household bills, the Barnett Government has slashed funding for 23 financial counsellor positions. The Western Australian Council of Social Services’ (WACOSS) Rising Cost of Living in WA report revealed 19,417 referrals were made in the last financial year, compared to 9,456 the previous year. The number of referrals has reached crisis point. The Barnett Government should be providing more services to struggling Western Australians but instead, it has taken them away.

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Under questioning in Parliament last week, Premier Colin Barnett adopted a dismissive approach and refused to reverse his decision to slash the number of financial counsellors. Not only is the Barnett Government to blame for the increase in the number of referrals, it has also taken away one of the few avenues Western Australians can utilise to help them cope with increases to household bills.

Mark McGowan MLA LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

Keelty Report highlights systematic problems

HE Barnett Government must reveal if the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) sought additional resources to fight fires but was denied them in the past two State budgets. In Parliament last week, WA Labor criticised the narrow terms of reference in the Keelty Report into the Margaret River bushfires and called on the Barnett Government to provide greater assistance for people whose homes were burnt down. Premier Colin Barnett must reveal if FESA was under-resourced and why the inquiry’s terms of reference were so narrow as to not investigate the management of the fire itself. Throughout the report, Mr Keelty stated that DEC staff were stretched

and that human resourcing was under pressure. Mr Barnett must reveal if his government knocked back requests from DEC to rectify these issues prior to the fire occurring. It’s simply not good enough to hide behind bureaucratic excuses when 40 homes were lost. Mr Barnett apologised and accepted full responsibility, which was the correct

thing to do. However, he then indicated that any compensation for incurred losses would be limited to $190,000 and that individuals could then take legal action if they wished. Surely if you can accept responsibility, you should not then make people take legal action for uninsured losses. More...


New stadium rail plans don’t add up

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HE Barnett Government must come clean on how its transport plans for the new Burswood stadium will operate. In Parliament last week Transport Minister Troy Buswell claimed the Barnett Government planned to move 35,500 people by trains after each major event. Under the Barnett Government’s proposal, it would need to use an entire fleet of trains almost the size of the existing fleet just to transport people in and out of the stadium after each event. Transperth currently has 43 train sets able to carry 500 people and 45 train sets able to carry 350 people available for service. To move 35,500 in an hour would require almost this entire fleet. The Barnett

Government has steadfastly refused to order sufficient trains to meet demand during peak periods and now it expects to use almost an entire fleet to take people to and from the stadium. Mr Buswell also claimed crowds would be cleared within one hour of the final siren. The current track and signalling simply could not handle this number of trains in an hour. It is now clear it was a bad decision to select Burswood as the stadium site as it will cost hundreds of millions dollars more than previously estimated. The Barnett Government should spend this money on providing better public transport for families in our suburbs to make their lives a little easier. More...

No options left for students repeating Year 12

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DUCATION Minister Liz Constable was blissfully unaware that the Department of Education would force students who wished to repeat Year 12 to attend one of only four colleges, all situated within 20 minutes of the Perth CBD. From 2013, Tuart College, Canning College, Cyril Jackson Senior Campus and North Lake Senior Campus were the only facilities that would accept

students beyond the compulsory education period. Dr Constable had no knowledge of the plan, even though the Department of Education sent a memo to every Western Australian school principal and regional director two weeks ago. This decision may make life extremely difficult for students outside of the metropolitan area. More...

WA Labor takes up case for inquiry into Ultramarathon fire

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FTER much pressure from WA Labor and the Western Australian community, the Barnett Government has finally agreed to a parliamentary inquiry into the September 2011 Kimberley Ultramarathon fire that left two women with horrific injuries. Tourism Minister Kim Hames claimed in December that the Government had a moral obligation to investigate factors that led to the tragedy, but failed to back up his talk with action. Kate Sanderson and Turia Pitt sustained severe burns during this governmentsponsored event and deserve to know why the tragedy occured. Kate and Turia need to know that their lives and injuries matter and that the government who readily promoted the event will take some responsibility for the errors that nearly cost them their lives. The Barnett Government has a moral obligation to answer some very tough questions about how a catastrophe like this was not forseen.


2012-02-29 Leaders Report - Financial counsellors cut as more seek help