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Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Page: 7573


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government) (10:45): I really do not think we want to be in the business of setting up straw people and knocking them down. I do not think we as government should dictate the way it should be. I do not think the senator opposite should dictate it. But, if she happens to think that she knows what would be the ideal arrangements, she is perfectly at liberty to share those with the local community. If she wants to do that, she should feel free to.

I will outline the situation with community bodies in a little more detail. The bill allows the local community body to support participants by varying the amount that is placed on the card down to a minimum of 50 per cent in response to demonstrated socially responsible behaviour or back up to the original amount if this behaviour is not maintained. It would also recommend support services, such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation or financial capability support. The local community body would not have the power to determine who would participate in a trial and it would be voluntary for a participant to appear before it. There is no compulsion here; it is voluntary. The local community body would be made up of local leaders who can represent the community and who have appropriate skills and standing in the community. The government is holding ongoing consultations with community leaders to determine the appropriate make-up of the body. That is what this is about. It is about consultation. It is far too early to be setting up straw men and knocking them down, Senator.

The local community body would make decisions to reduce an individual's restricted percentage based on agreed criteria, which may include evidence of meeting community norms, including meeting participation requirements and children attending school, and evidence that there is no misuse of drugs or alcohol or involvement in problem gambling. References from community members could be presented to support the individual's request. That is the schema, and we as a government are not dictating the way that people operate on the ground.