Page 3085 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022

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Ms Cheyne: Shocking!

MS DAVIDSON: I know. I did once get one nice WhatsApp text from Mr Parton last month—thank you—but unfortunately there was nothing about policy. Seeing that the opposition are far too busy debating amongst themselves who their next no confidence motion will be about, I thought I might run through some of the research into poverty in the ACT, which I will table, to make it easier for Ms Lee to find.

Housing affordability and poverty are inextricably linked in the ACT, as is shown in the Anglicare rental affordability snapshot. In their recommendations for what should be done in the 2022 snapshot, Anglicare recommends raising the rate of commonwealth welfare payments. As Mr Davis explained, this needs to be more than just a CPI increase.

Anglicare also calls for investment in more affordable rental homes. Minister Vassarotti will speak in more detail about the ACT government’s ongoing work in housing and why this is absolutely a commitment in the parliamentary and governing agreement.

As Mr Davis said, in the 2022 ACT Cost of Living Report, published by ACTCOSS, we learned that the higher JobKeeper payment and the coronavirus supplement meant that our poverty rate dropped from a pre-COVID estimate of 8.6 per cent to 5.2 per cent by October 2020. Returning to the lower payment rates after that date meant that the poverty rate jumped to nine per cent. I quote from my speech during the debate on a similar motion in February 2021:

I implore everyone in this Assembly to call on the Morrison government to revoke its decision to throw almost 20,000 more Canberrans into poverty, and permanently raise the rate. This should be a priority for Ms Lee and her colleagues.

Was it a priority for Ms Lee? Did she talk to her federal counterparts about raising the rate? I do not think so. The reason I think that is the rise in requests for food relief assistance when JobKeeper ended, which the ACT government did its best to meet through the Canberra Relief Network, working with local food pantries alongside the SES, Volunteering ACT, and defence service veteran volunteers from Disaster Relief Australia.

In October 2021 ACTCOSS published a fact sheet on poverty and COVID-19 in the ACT, again calling on the commonwealth government to raise the rate for good.

We also know that there is a gendered dimension to poverty in the ACT, thanks to Below the surface: the hidden women in the ACT in middle income households at risk of ending up in poverty, published by the Women’s Centre for Health Matters, in partnership with researchers at the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra in June 2019. That research tells us that at least 44.7 per cent of all ACT women and girls in middle-income households are most likely only in that middle class due to parent or partner income. If there is a family or relationship breakdown or the primary income earner experiences a loss of income, those women and girls are at risk of living in poverty—drivers of poverty.

This built on the previous report by the Women’s Centre for Health Matters in June 2018, Hidden disadvantage among women in the ACT, where we found that there

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