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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (19 September) . . Page.. 2901..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

vehicle came into use with a volunteer bush fire brigade. Indeed, all of the brigades now have similar vehicles because it was such a good thing. But it is interesting that one of his last great fights was actually against the Jon Stanhope Labor government.

Mr Speaker, I am sure you and others knew Mr Parry. He worked most of his life in the building and construction industry. He was a welder, a rigger, a dogman, a scaffolder and a teacher. I understand that his real passion was driving a crane and that in this regard he was probably second to none. He started his working career on the Snowy Mountains scheme. He worked in all facets of the building and construction industry. He was, indeed, a member of the BLF and later he was, as I have said, assistant secretary of the CFMEU.

Those of us who knew Glen very much appreciated his candour, his honesty and his passion about all the things in which he got involved. In that regard, Canberra is the lesser for the passing of Glen Parry. I am grateful to the CFMEU for giving me some of this information. Indeed, an article written by Steve King will appear in the next edition of the CFMEU news with a rather charming photograph of Glen with that characteristic moustache and goatee. I just wanted to say that we did not see eye to eye on everything, but you had to admire Glen Parry's passion for life, his love for those that he worked with, and his commitment to occupational health and safety and improving the lot of the ordinary worker.

Economy—consumer price index

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.02): Mr Speaker, following the MPI today and the discussion about economic matters, I just thought I would draw the Assembly's attention to a report released yesterday by the Australian Greens, which had a good look at the consumer price index and its usefulness at measuring the cost of living of ordinary Australians. Whilst the study, which was called "Let them eat cake—how low income earners are disadvantaged by the consumer price index", focuses on the consumer price index, I think that a lot of the criticisms in it could also be applied to the use of the wage index as a way of working out rates and charges and the relative wealth of people, because it was found that, as both indexes are based on averages, they can give a very false impression of how people are doing in the ACT.

That is certainly problematic for governments which make budgets on averages. We all know that the ACT looks very good in terms of gross household disposable income per capita, at $43,084 per person in 2004-05, compared with Tasmanian residents at $22,967. I think we all know that, where there is equity in a community and a narrower range of variation between wages and wealth, there is a potential for that community to be a more peaceful community. In fact, it is the high degrees of difference between wealth and poverty that can cause unrest and unhappiness in a community.

I guess the interesting thing about the Australian Greens study of the CPI is that it shows that the CPI's function has actually changed over the period of the Howard government. Whereas once it used to be seen as a way of measuring the cost of living, it is now more related to measuring the degree of inflation. So it has become much more a tool for assisting with monetary policy for the Reserve Bank of Australia. Among the reasons that the CPI does not do a good job of measuring the cost of living is that it ignores the cost of mortgage interest payments, which, of course, are a burden on many families; it


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