Page 3083 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022

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MR DAVIS: Ms Lee’s interjections demonstrate the motivations behind today’s motion. I quote from the report:

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic we saw poverty and inequality reduce in a time of recession and rise during the period of economic recovery. As we observed in our 2021 ACT Cost of Living Report, despite the deepest recession in a century and record high unemployment, income inequality and poverty declined during the first wave of the pandemic due to robust income supports in the form of the JobKeeper Payment and the Coronavirus Supplement.

In the ACT this meant that while the number of people receiving JobSeeker and Youth Allowance … more than doubled, our poverty rate dropped from a pre-COVID estimate of 8.6% to 5.2% by October 2020. The withdrawal of JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement saw the poverty rate in the ACT increase to approximately 9.0%, representing—

and this is the part that has been quoted in Ms Lee’s media release—

an estimated 38,300 Canberrans—including approximately 9,000 children.

This report tracks changes in income and the cost of living for low-income households in the ACT from December 2020 to December 2021. During this period the Coronavirus Supplement was phased out and despite a permanent increase to JobSeeker of $50 per fortnight from 1 April 2021, the payment returned to well below the poverty line. By December 2021, a single person without children on JobSeeker had an income that was $138 below the poverty line of $457 per week—for a single person on Youth Allowance … their income dropped to $197 below the poverty line per week. For a single parent with two children, the JobSeeker payment dropped to $108 below the poverty line of $731 per week.

These are the experts that the ACT government should rely on and the Canberra Liberals should rely on when forming policy solutions to the wicked problem of wealth, income inequality and poverty in this city. They have spelled it out right there in black and white: poor people do not have enough money, and it is the federal government that decides how much money to give them.

I am very proud of the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment by this government in housing and in community services, and I appreciate that the Chief Minister has gone to some effort to spell those out at length in his amendment. Having said that, I will not let the Chief Minister get away with this one. Paragraph (5)(c) of the amendment refers to “the largest indexation increase to the pension in 12 years, and the largest indexation increase to welfare payments in more than three decades”. Yes, that is wonderful, but that is built into the system. That is expected. We saw the new Prime Minister—

Mr Barr: I said that.

MR DAVIS: The reason I bring it up is that I think we saw a bit of a cheeky attempt from the new Prime Minister to try and take credit for that, as if it were a policy decision of the new federal government and not built into the system. That is why I raise it. I raise it because deflections like this—with the Canberra Liberals saying

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