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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 4 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 821..

Low income earners-concessions

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.08): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) the importance of concessions to low-income ACT residents; and

(b) the ACT Government:

(i) was conducting a wide ranging review of its concessions program between 2001 and 2004; and

(ii) is yet to respond to or release the findings of this review; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) complete the review of concessions; and

(b) present the findings and a government response to the Assembly by December 2007.

The provision of concessions plays an important role in government efforts to reduce the effects of poverty. Concessions can have a significant impact on the ability of people on low incomes to access economic and social opportunities in the territory and thus to participate in community life. They can directly reduce the costs of many important services for people at risk. The provision of concessions was identified as an important mechanism to alleviate poverty by the ACT Poverty Task Group in its December 2000 report, Sharing the benefits.

That statement is from the July 2002 ACTCOSS submission to the ACT government's review of concessions. The review was never released, and it is an interesting story that we really only learnt the facts about today. The review, however, did have quite a bit of time, effort and taxpayer funding put into its production.

Perhaps the issue that led to this review would have been forgotten if not for the ACT government's 2006-07 budget. The government's attempts to cut government spending had significant effects on those disadvantaged ACT residents who try and survive on low incomes in this rather expensive territory. The 2006-07 budget was, as the Greens have said a number of times, bereft of a social conscience.

The concessions issue might also have been forgotten if it had not been for the federal government's WorkChoices and welfare to work programs which, when coupled with the ACT government's budgetary changes, place greater barriers to the ability of the ACT's most disadvantaged residents to access economic and social opportunities.

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