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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 2 Hansard (18 February) . .

Page.. 642..

Cost of living

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Lawder): Madam Speaker has received letters from Ms Burch, Mr Doszpot, Mr Hanson, Mrs Jones, Ms Porter, Mr Smyth and Mr Wall proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Madam Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Mr Smyth be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of reducing cost of living pressures in the ACT.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.57): Madam Assistant Speaker, this is a very important matter to many members of the public who find it very hard to maintain their homes and live in the ACT. I recently spoke to a gentleman in the ACT who had recently retired. His wife had continued to work. Unfortunately the wife passed away and he now finds that on his pension he has to support himself and his premises in Kambah and it is nigh on impossible. He is finding it very expensive and, after having lived here for almost 20 years, is now considering going across the border because the ACT is almost out of his reach.

If you thought of the ACT government as a company with a net worth of about $17 billion, total assets of some $29 billion, staff of 20,000, annual budget expenses of $5 billion, call it 151,000 shareholders in the households that live here in the ACT—if you had shares in a company like that, you would be looking for a dividend, whether it be a cash dividend or whether it is a dividend in improved services or conditions. But that is not what the people of the ACT find. You only have to have listened to the questions of the Minister for Health this week to realise it must be deja vu for Mr Corbell that 10 years later no-one has fixed the problems that he left when he was last minister. People would not mind paying the taxes if they thought they were getting a dividend in improved quality of service, greater timeliness, and quicker access. But that is not what they get.

That is not what they get in their shopping centres. It was well and good to hear Ms Fitzharris in the set piece, the dixer, say that they are allowed to talk about the money they are spending on upgrading shopping centres. But remember, members, this is the government that cut those upgrades. As the Treasurer used to call it, it was business welfare. Building the public realm, creating the city, building the meeting places was business welfare. They have learnt that lesson and, largely thanks to Mr Coe, those funds have been in some way restored.

I hark back to 2010 when Mrs Jones and I doorknocked every shop at the Kambah shops and demanded that there be a master plan, and the government finally acquiesced after motions in this place. Mr Wall had similar success, after years of my trying, to get a master plan for Calwell. Mrs Jones raised the issues in an election context, and commitments were made. There is a master plan but there is no action on it. And this is the government that does not deliver.

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