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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (3 August) . . Page.. 3346..

Workers Compensation Amendment Regulations 2004 (No 1)-Subordinate Law SL2004-27 (LR, 12 July 2004).

Workers Compensation (Fees) Determination 2004-Disallowable Instrument DI2004-146 (LR, 30 June 2004).

Caring for the ageing

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Mr Cornwell proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

Caring for Canberra's ageing population.

MR CORNWELL (3.50): Why do we need to stand in this chamber and speak in debate on this matter of public importance, namely, caring for Canberra's ageing population, when it should be obvious to everybody that we should be caring for them? Unfortunately, so far as this government is concerned, that is not the case. Much of Canberra's ageing population has been neglected as a result of the callous indifference of this government.

Three years on we are seeing slothful progress in the provision of aged care, inexplicable planning delays and the accumulation of in excess of 250 Commonwealth provided nursing home beds, which is a gross wastage of resources and which has cost ACT taxpayers dearly. It is interesting, however, that now that an election is pending we are suddenly finding that those beds are being released in some form or another, albeit not as fast as any of us would like.

Naturally, the opposition welcomes the release of those beds and the use of such expensive resources to ease the pain and suffering of our aged population and to lessen the concern of their families. Caring for our ageing population is not confined to those in need of medical and residential support; it also involves ensuring that their quality of life is as decent and as civilised as possible before physical and mental deterioration make inevitable controlled care, such as nursing homes and aged care facilities.

The government does not agree that the quality of life of our aged population should be as decent and civilised as possible, or that there should be compassionate fairness prior to their admittance to nursing homes. The government has applied selective restrictions to our mobile aged, in particular, to self-funded low-income retirees. The best way to make this position clear is to quote from a media release that was issued by Mr David Kibbey, the Liberal candidate for Molonglo, in the forthcoming election. He said that the perception that self-funded retirees were all wealthy and did not need access to seniors concessions was wrong and had led to unfair policies by the Stanhope government.

Mr Kibbey also said that he had received repeated complaints from self-funded retirees that they "needed and deserved to be treated just like other seniors". He then said that many couples who were living on less than the pension were bewildered and resentful that a lifetime of thrift and hard work was now being used to deny them access to benefits that their hard earned tax dollars were providing to others.

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