Page 139 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 9 February 2022

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many of our underpaid groups, including the arts, education, retail, hospitality, early childhood education, health and aged care. They work fewer hours, in less secure jobs, and in sectors dominated by casualisation. They have also suffered a second blow from COVID, with higher rates of domestic and family violence, and a third blow, with higher caring duties during lockdowns.

Our budget is great for the construction industry, but not many women work in that industry. We do not just need to build physical infrastructure for our recovery. Our people are our assets. There are many more jobs to be created per dollar spent in arts, health, public service and education than there are in construction. I would like to see more money put into new, ongoing FTEs and programs in these sectors.

We have a budget with a women’s statement at the end that tells us how it helps women. We need a budget that actually has every decision filtered through a gender lens for all our policies and programs. Our directorates need training, support and reporting to make sure they do this well. The Chief Minister tells us that this year’s budget will have a gender lens built in as part of the wellbeing framework. I really look forward to seeing the implementation of that and seeing how it is working.

We also need to support new business models that look after people and tackle the big problems we are dealing with. It is great that we have rising wages and more jobs, but a lot of people miss out on those. There is a mismatch between jobs and those who need a job. I have conversations all the time in Belconnen with those who want skills or work but cannot find them. Often they are at either end of their career; they are older or they are younger. We need to do more to ensure training and support for people in Canberra who are out of work.

Despite the ACT’s gross state product per capita being over $100,000, a single Canberra age pensioner earns just over $25,000 per annum. A single person on JobSeeker earns a little more than $16,000. A full-time minimum wage earner is on just over $40,000. I know these are commonwealth responsibilities and we have limited control over them, but they are the reality that many Canberrans live with. If we cannot directly raise those incomes, we need to make sure our policies and programs support people who are living on them. We should consider how we can lower the cost of living for those in our city earning the least, possibly by expanding schemes like rates assistance and concessions on bills. We should look at how we can shift more of our tax burden to those who can afford to pay it, like big companies and the wealthiest in society.

I am incredibly proud to be part of a government that has just put $100 million into public and social housing, but I still see missed opportunities in some of our programs. Some business models are better at looking after people than others. I went to a fascinating forum this week on co-ops. Co-operative structures return all their profits to members. We have good support for co-ops in our parliamentary and governing agreement, but we have not yet delivered on that support. These business models are delivering amazing results right here in Canberra and they are looking at major social and environmental problems.

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