Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 13 October 2022) . . Page.. 3090 ..
how we support people who are struggling most. This is something that my ministerial colleague Emma Davidson, in her role to support social recovery, has been working particularly hard on.
In addition, I think we have the opportunity to work with the whole community to improve our access to local healthy and affordable food. We need to look at ways where access is universal and not required to be subsidised for those on the lowest incomes. This is something that I am keen to ensure is a theme of the work that we are progressing around a food and fibre strategy.
The cost of utilities is another key pressure, particularly with the climate extremes that we are facing in Canberra. Again, we are lucky to be a forward-thinking government whose contracts have insulated our community from the price increases felt by many other Australians. The ACT government is providing real relief to low income earners through a substantial concession. But we know that there are structural things we can do to decrease the energy costs faced by households. I was extremely proud to champion the increase of energy efficiency standards for new homes so that there will be less reliance on fossil fuels to heat our homes in winter and cool our homes in summer, saving people money, as well as saving the planet.
We know what is driving poverty and we know that there are things that the ACT government can do to reduce poverty and inequality. Unlike some governments, we are not responding with economic prosperity. I listened to some of the Canberra Liberals’ contributions to the budget debate yesterday and today with some alarm, given their focus on the issue of government debt. I think it is time to come clean on what your plans are and if these plans include reducing services and programs to support those on the lowest incomes. We really need to know: what will you be offering to address poverty in this city? With that, I commend the ACT Chief Minister’s amendment to the motion.
MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (4.25): It is interesting that the Chief Minister says that he will not support my motion because it is nothing different, of course, to what the federal parliament is doing. What’s interesting is he then, in this book of an amendment, spends more than a full-page spruiking what the ACT government apparently is doing to reduce poverty.
So it is very clear, Mr Deputy Speaker, that this Labor Greens government is always very quick to spruik and spruik but cannot bring itself to take any responsibility for the 38,000 Canberrans living in poverty, including 9,000 children; for the fact that we have the highest median rents in the country; for the fact that 73 per cent of those living in that classification they spent more than 30 per cent of their household income on housing; nor for the fact that tens of thousands of Canberrans are being deprived of the opportunity to own their own home.
Once again, we see many ministers in this government say that they already know, that they already know. And yet, we saw only a couple of hours ago, in question time this morning, Minister Vassarotti saying that she actually does not know all the reasons why ACT has increasing levels of repeated homelessness, whilst at the same time it is decreasing in Australia.