Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2813 ..
Canberrans unable to work while in isolation and awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test may also be able to access the $270 COVID-19 test hardship isolation payment. For businesses, the ACT government and the commonwealth government are jointly funding COVID-19 business support grants of up to $20,000 to eligible employing businesses and $7,500 to eligible non-employing businesses, plus grant extension payments for eligible businesses and top-up payments for businesses.
Mr Deputy Speaker, we are continuing to fund a range of community and support organisations so that they can accommodate and support more Canberrans who are particularly vulnerable, including those at risk of homelessness or experiencing mental health issues. All these measures are making a difference to the lives of Canberrans. Of course, the most immediate way that we can lift people out of poverty in the ACT and around Australia would be for the commonwealth to significantly increase its base support payments.
It is now time for the Canberra Liberals to join with the ACT government to get the coalition government to reinstate the JobSeeker scheme this year and to make sure that the payment for JobSeeker remains at the rate it was last year so that people can have a chance to broaden their horizons, lift themselves out of poverty and have a decent crack at happiness like the rest of us have a chance to. Our call today to Ms Lee and the Canberra Liberals is to join us to lobby their federal colleagues, including the federal Treasurer, because the federal cut-off has and will hurt many more Canberrans who rely on this extra support to cover essential living costs.
The ACT government will continue to use every single tool that it has at its disposal to foster a strong, fair, economic recovery from a pandemic-induced economic downturn while continuing to address the day-to-day costs and stresses that Canberrans are facing. We have seen the ACT government’s pre-budget announcements with regard to support and equity payments within ACT government schools around providing a trial for free meals in schools which, I might add, the Canberra Liberals scoffed at during the election when we made that commitment. Further to that, we are increasing an equity payment for students and families who need that essential support for school uniforms and other supplies.
We are continuing the provision of free Chromebooks to senior secondary students from year 7 to year 12 to assist them in their schools, to remove the financial burden from families and to relieve the troubleshooting that teachers have to do across a number of devices. The pre-budget announcement included wi-fi access for those families who need it, which will not just support the young person in their education but also the family in being able to access wi-fi as well.
We have also announced $80 million in maintenance for our public housing. We are continuing to grow and renew public housing all across the ACT, as progressive governments do. I think that the penny might just have dropped for the Canberra Liberals: this is what progressive governments do, and this is what the ACT government is delivering on. It is delivering on our housing strategy to make sure that we renew, grow and maintain our public housing and, in addition to that, make sure that our public education system supports young people and their families,