Page 3967 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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Let us not forget that Canberra remains the most expensive capital city to rent a house—that is, of course, if you can find one. Just today we saw data from the rental affordability index, which rated the ACT as the worst region for rental affordability across a staggering eight of the 10 low income household groups analysed. In eight out of 10 groups, the ACT was named the worst for rental affordability.

The report showed that students, pensioners and single parents are forced to sacrifice up to 70 per cent of their income to pay their rent. This, of course, means that these low income households will struggle to meet the cost of food, medicine, utilities and other essential goods and services.

Over the last 10 years, we have seen the average rates bills for households increase by 10 per cent each and every year. Under the Labor-Greens government’s tax reform agenda, people can expect their rates bills to keep going up and up, as we are only halfway through the reform agenda.

The cost of child care in Canberra is the highest in the country and our GP bulk-billing rates are the lowest. We have heard this week that families will be paying even more for their Christmas lunch this year, as grocery prices continue to rise. As much as this Labor-Greens government wish to bury their heads in the sand, the fact is that many Canberrans are facing a cost of living crisis.

The ACTCOSS report found that the escalating prices for essential goods and services will hit lower income households the hardest. The report details how housing, transport and energy costs are amongst the main contributors to the increasing cost of living pressures on low income households in the ACT, and how this sharp increase in the cost of living has seen an increase in poverty in our community.

The ACTCOSS report found that, despite the ACT having the highest average weekly earnings in the nation, around one in 10 Canberrans are living in poverty. The report found 62 per cent of people had difficulty getting medication or medical care due to the increased cost of living, and 70 per cent of people who regularly use a car had difficulty travelling to work, medical and other appointments due to the increase in fuel costs. In recent media reporting, the CEO of ACTCOSS, Dr Emma Campbell, said:

We see that the cost of living crisis combined with pressures of rising inflation means many Canberra households cannot afford the fundamentals of a healthy life such as housing, food, transport, health services, and energy …

None of this is news to this Labor-Greens government. Only a few months ago, I stood here in this very place and spoke about the massive challenges that many of our low income and vulnerable Canberrans are facing with respect to their cost of living. I put forward a Canberra Liberals motion to establish an independent inquiry into the prevalence of poverty in Canberra, only to have every single member of Labor and the Greens vote it down. In February last year the Canberra Liberals tried, unsuccessfully, to establish a poverty task force to investigate the ongoing causes and drivers of poverty in the ACT. Again, that motion was voted down by every single

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