Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (28 November) . . Page.. 4958 ..
low fixed-income pensions. They are the people just above the commonwealth government's cut-off level for concession cards.
We are in this position because Australia's income tax and means testing systems are operated by the federal government. The only verified information the ACT government has to work with are the federal government's pensioner concession card and tax assessments. Of course, tax assessments are a record of income of 12 months ago, and as a result every state and territory is in the same boat as the ACT—we are very limited as to how we can means test concessions.
I understand it costs the commonwealth government in the order of $100 million a year to do their income testing to work out who gets a concession. I am not for one minute suggesting we should be duplicating that, but I am saying that in 2018 we should be able to do better than this. A few things are relevant to this: firstly, currency of information. The federal government gets pay-as-you-earn tax information every payslip. People have to regularly update their income details with Centrelink for things like the childcare subsidy. It must be possible to introduce some system for states and territories to get timely and sufficient information to enable them to look at the income of people who say they need support.
My motion calls on the ACT government to work with the federal government and other states and territories to pursue this. That would be positive for all low income Australians and not just those who are fortunate enough to live in the ACT. The end result—it will take some while—could be an ability to deliver a much fairer set of rates and utilities concessions and true income-based fines, as per the Finnish model that I mentioned earlier.
In conclusion, my motion hopefully will be one of the many steps this Assembly will take towards creating fairness for people who are struggling financially. Everyone here is concerned that, while as a whole Canberrans are well off, some of us are not. My motion proposes a range of measures targeted at helping people at the point of crisis where they are moving from being financially stretched and not doing that well to being in outright financial hardship and having to choose between food, rent and paying the charges our government asks of them. I urge all members to vote for this important motion.
Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.
Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.
Questions without notice
MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development. Minister, in your future of education statement, you said that the government will look to bring community school approaches to the ACT education