Page 3352 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022

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It seems like a wasted opportunity, in the same way as did Ms Lee’s proposed motion earlier this week to discuss poverty. Ms Lee had 15 minutes in her opening remarks and 10 minutes to close—25 minutes in total—and could not once bring herself to say: “Maybe it would be a good idea if we raised the rate of income support. As long as we are having this big conversation about poverty and people who are doing it tough and ways governments could support them, maybe I could just slip in here, ‘Hey, keeping people living on incomes that sit well below the Henderson Poverty Line is kind of criminal and an egregious abuse of power in a country as rich as Australia.’ Maybe I will mention that so that we can then move on from that sort of shared position, like the one we now have on the public housing debt, and then we could have a serious conversation like adults about what is now in the ACT government’s control, and we could talk about that.” But they will not.

Maybe it is because members of this place, right across the political spectrum, aspire to move up to the hill and do not want to upset future colleagues. Maybe it is because they do not believe that the rate should be raised, as an example. Maybe it is because—and dare I say it again at the risk of really upsetting people—conservative right-wing Liberal economic theory insists on a certain degree of poverty and insists on a certain amount of people struggling. You cannot have a society where people aspire to be the haves unless you can, by contrast, point out the have-nots—right? I know that is difficult, but that is the economic theory to which those to my right, literally and figuratively, subscribe to, which makes participating in this debate really difficult.

You could overcome that, of course. You could say, “Let’s raise the rate.” You could have used this motion to talk about other ways the ACT government could impact the public housing wait lists, but you did not. We are going to continue to see cheap political shots in this space. We are going to see it while the public housing wait list continues to grow. It solidifies my resolve and—forgive me for saying this, Mr Assistant Speaker Cain; I am probably biased—it makes me even more grateful that there were six Greens elected to this Assembly. That gave us huge weight in formulating the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement, and we were able to secure our election commitment to buy or build 400 new public housing properties by 2025. And I am pleased that Minister Berry and Minister Vassarotti are going to continue to work hard together on delivering that.

In my last few seconds, I would just encourage Mr Parton and the Canberra Liberals, on the few rare occasions they have to bring new public policy debates to this chamber, to do their own homework.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (4.50): I have a few words to say in support of the Chief Minister’s amendment to Mr Parton’s motion. I thank Mr Parton for highlighting Mr Davis’s very similar resolution from June of this year advocating for more and better quality public housing for the ACT and seeking to improve the ACT’s ability to fund that increase through seeking the waiving of the historic ACT housing debt. If this debt to the commonwealth is cancelled, it will mean that the ACT government is able to invest millions of dollars more into Housing ACT each year.

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