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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1934..


MR QUINLAN: I do not have a figure off the top of my head, so I would look at the particular industry. Capital works could involve a considerable amount of equipment or it could involve a considerable amount of construction, so it would be a very rough rule of thumb. However, as I stand here, I do not have a particular rule of thumb, but I am conversant with the implication that extra expenditure might mean extra jobs.

Mr Humphries: Might.

MR QUINLAN: Yes. You might just spend it all on equipment.

MRS CROSS: That was not a very satisfactory answer, but I will give this one a go and see how he goes. How will you make up for those lost jobs, or are you saying that this is simply the job recession we had to have?

MR QUINLAN: Getting corny now, isn't it? I do not have the numbers in front of me, but basically what I said was that it would have been common sense, in setting a budget, to set a level of works that was sustainable over time, rather than adopt what was quite patently an economic scorched earth policy, as I think I described it before. If you read the budget of last year, you will say, "Here is a government that is actually trying to either spend or commit every available cent for the purposes of positioning leading up to an election." That is the criticism that I have made. I thought it was unsatisfactory to change the capital budget of a territory for that short-term economic expedience.

Pensioner concession card holders

MR CORNWELL: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Corbell, Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services. Minister, I note that you have refused to agree to participate in a federal Liberal government initiative to extend benefits available for pensioner concession card holders to low income holders of the Commonwealth seniors health card in the ACT. Minister, why have you denied 8,237 Canberrans these benefits?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, the Commonwealth government announced in its 2001 budget, under the program called acknowledging older Australians, its intention to negotiate-I put negotiate in inverted commas-with the states and territories to extend concessions to holders of the Commonwealth seniors health card. As I understand it, the form of that negotiation was a letter to me saying, "This is our amount of the money and it would be really good if you did the same."

I think this is a dilemma faced by all state and territory governments: the Commonwealth government makes budget announcements that it takes the credit for, and then expects state and territory governments to pick up the majority of the costs. That is certainly the case in relation to this particular initiative. My advice is that, as at February 2002, there were 5,561 Commonwealth seniors health card holders in the ACT, and it is those people, not the 8,000 figure that Mr Cornwell referred to, who were potentially to receive some assistance under this initiative.

The real problem is that there is no commitment from the Commonwealth government to match these funds in the case of future growth. The real concern for this government is that, as our community continues to age, the ACT government will be asked to pick up


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