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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 8 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 3253..


National student concession card

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. The Assembly discussed a motion of mine recently on student concessions, and that is the subject. Could the minister update the Assembly on the Labor government's proposal—I might say the ACT Labor government's proposal, so that there is some relevance; unlike the MPI, this is about the ACT Labor government's proposal—to seek agreement on the development of a national student concession card?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Hargreaves for his interest in the young people of Canberra and his ongoing interest particularly in those who study here in Canberra. This is a follow-up to a motion that Mr Hargreaves brought to the Assembly some time ago. Cross-state and territory recognition of student concessions is a national issue that affects all young people that study.

In Youth Week this year, Mr Hargreaves moved a motion in the Assembly supporting me bringing forward as an agenda item a national concession card for students at the next meeting of the Community and Disability Services Ministers Conference. I note that the motion was passed unanimously by all those here. I am actually quite grateful; it was one of those rare occasions when a motion had universal support. It is a rare occasion. That fact, combined with the National Union of Students' campaign called "fair fares for students", has given this proposal a great chance of reaching the development stage when I take it to the ministerial council.

The next meeting of the Community and Disability Services Ministers Conference will be held in October, and this will give students—because it has been pushed back a little bit; I think it was planned to be held in August—a chance to grow their petition in support of a card, so that I and the students themselves can demonstrate to other ministers why this is such an important matter.

At the present time, an online petition at gopetition.com has 3,000 signatures and it rates as the 39th most popular online petition in Australia of the time. This does not include hard copy signatures which students have been out collecting on campuses right across Australia. In fact, in one day at the Australian National University, a student, Ryan Turner, collected around 500 signatures in support of the card from students during O-Week here in the ACT. So I want to congratulate him on his initiative in collecting 500 signatures.

The fact is that for Canberra students to support this initiative is a bit of a no-brainer. A concession card system also has a precedent. In 2008, COAG signed the national agreement on certain concessions for pensions and seniors card holders. Part B to that agreement was the provision by state and territory governments of designated public transport concessions for all Australian seniors card holders on public transport services, irrespective of the seniors card holder's state of residence.

I will be arguing for those same benefits to apply for students who have limited economic capacity. This meeting, as I said, will be in October. I will be seeking agreement from community services ministers to support the development of a card


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