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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4453..



In line with the agreement reached at the COAG meeting in April 2002 that the Council would have a broad strategic discussion of a national public policy issue at each meeting, the Council spent some time last Friday looking at the economic and social implications arising from the projected ageing of Australia's population.

COAG members acknowledge the enormous contribution older people make to Australian society, and the experience and skills they bring to our community. COAG also recognised the natural and appropriate desire of all Australians to maintain, and where possible improve, the quality of their lives as they age.

There will be significant growth in the population over 65 years old, which is projected to increase almost three-fold over the next four decades. Within the overall ageing of the Australian population, important differences are likely to occur in the ageing profiles of States and Territories, and in specific regions and localities.

COAG acknowledged that a range of areas required further consideration by individual jurisdictions including: the productivity and labour supply implications of an ageing Australia; infrastructure and community support; the impact of ageing in regional areas; and accessible, appropriate health and aged care services. To further improve understanding of the challenges and opportunities arising from the projected ageing of the population, COAG agreed to ask the Productivity Commission to undertake a research study into the future impact of ageing, with a particular focus on labour market issues and implications for government budgets.

Mr Speaker, the ACT is already taking action in relation to service delivery and planning issues to address the ageing of our community. We have established an Office for Ageing and are considering the long term opportunities and challenges posed by our ageing population in the Canberra Plan. At the COAG meeting, agreement was also reached on arrangements with New Zealand for reviewing the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) and the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA).

The review will be conducted in two stages, with the Productivity Commission providing a commissioned research paper assessing the benefits of the agreements and scope for improvements. This will then be considered by an officers group of the COAG Committee for Regulatory Reform, including New Zealand representatives, that will report to COAG and the New Zealand government before the end of 2003.

Mr Speaker, the ACT Government welcomes this review and will fully participate in the review process. The review will provide the opportunity to examine the effectiveness of current legislation, including issues in relation to the banning of dangerous goods.

In relation to the Corporations Agreement, COAG agreed to sign a new Corporations Agreement to support the constitutional and legislative framework of the corporations regime. Two further issues - relating to foregone revenue payments and the inclusion of the Australian Capital Territory as a party to the scheme - will be addressed by the Ministerial Council for Corporations.

The new Corporations Agreement does not currently include the ACT as a voting member, as a number of jurisdictions still require their Cabinets' final approval before the ACT can become a party to the agreement. Progress towards acceptance

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