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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1585

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (11:35): Firstly, I would like to congratulate the member for Hotham for bringing this really important motion to the House. I am really disappointed that there are not more speakers on the government side, more members coming into the chamber and standing up for the community groups in their electorates.

In Australia today the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest Australians is widening. The poorest Australians are struggling to survive, and if an emergency occurs they will be struggling even more. Unemployment in this country has constantly gone up under those on the other side of House. The number of jobs is declining and the number of people participating in full-time employment has fallen. Newstart allowance is at a very minimal level. There has been an assault on single parents, who are struggling harder and harder. We are now hearing that people with disabilities will have to bear the brunt of this government's harsh approaches. There are working poor in this country, with a decrease in full-time employment and casualisation of the workforce, with those people receiving no sick leave or carers leave. These are all components that lead to making it harder for people that need little bit of help from government.

About 12.8 per cent of all Australians live below the poverty line. Consider that in the context of the grants that we are discussing here today. The process for these grants has been handled appallingly by the government. They extended the grants for six months, then they extended them again till March and, where just two days before Christmas, they made phone calls—not even having the decency to do it in writing—notifying organisations that they had been defunded.

The government have ripped $21 million out of organisations that provide services to marginalised and struggling Australians. This is the Abbott government way: attack those people who cannot stand up for themselves and attack those organisations that provide support for them. By attacking those organisations, they are attacking those volunteers that work in them.

Organisations are put on hold at the moment; they are just waiting to find out whether or not they are going to receive funding. It is like purchasing a car and finding that the engine does not work properly. Those organisations that are getting funding, I hear on the grapevine, are actually receiving less than they need to operate the programs. They are getting the car but they are not getting the engine.

I understand that there have been a number of organisations on the Central Coast of New South Wales, part of which is covered by my electorate, that have lost their funding. I am really surprised that members are not in this chamber standing up and arguing for those community centres. One such community centre is the Warnervale Family and Community Centre. They lost their funding so they closed last Thursday, which I think is really deplorable. The member for Dobell made an excellent speech upstairs about International Women's Day and about the high level of domestic violence on the Central Coast, but here she is silent when it comes to talking about the closing of these organisations.

The allocation for relief funding for the Central Coast was nearly $900,000 per annum, and the feedback that I am getting is that what has been paid is significantly less. Other organisations that have lost their funding are organisations like the Gosford/Narara Neighbourhood Centre. They lost all of their $240,000 of funding. The Entrance Neighbourhood Centre neighbourhood centre lost all of their $57,000 of funding. St Vincent de Paul were also unsuccessful. These are all organisations providing vital services for people on the Central Coast. (Time expired)