Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 (19 October) . . Page.. 3355..
MR MULCAHY (continuing):
It is a bit disappointing that the government has decided not to proceed today with tax reform measures that were designed to bring in the forward years benefits to the people of Canberra of around $28 million, but this is the literal commitment, and very much in a slowcoach approach, to the people of Canberra in return for the windfall GST. This government is continually dreaming up new taxes and charges and burying them in the budget papers and it is a while before people started to realise that. What we have seen with the utilities tax is that, instead of being up front about it, it is hidden in the accounts and we have a situation months after the budget was presented whereby it is now starting to cause agitation with utilities.
Land tax, representing now the highest rate on unimproved value on an average basis across Australia, is another method of hitting people hard and confusing the electorate by having so many different levels of taxes. So it is important to look into these accounts to see how much we are receiving from GST revenue and to recognise what the territory government is doing by indirect taxes.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.56): I want to acknowledge that this week is Antipoverty Week. The events began on Sunday with the SIEV X commemoration event which is recorded in the Antipoverty Week program and a wellbeing fiesta on Reid campus which was organised by Mary Gays of the Mental Health Foundation. There have been events every day of this week and they will conclude on Friday.
On Monday, Antipoverty Week was officially opened in the reception room by Richard Refshauge. It was a sobering event. Unfortunately, there was a shortage of MLAs there. I am hoping that some MLAs have been able to make at least one of the many events that have been held this week. I know that there were not any other MLAs at the event I organised last night, which was on the topic of making indigenous poverty history. That was the only event this week related specifically to indigenous issues in the ACT. I will go into a little bit of detail on that in a minute.
But first of all I want to thank Sue Packer and Kerrie Tucker, who were the people who did all the hard work of working with community organisations and individuals to organise all the events that have been held this week. It is important to think at least once a year about poverty and its impact on our people. Of course, indigenous people are amongst the most disadvantaged people in any community where they live. Canberra is no exception, though I am sure that we have a great deal more in services for indigenous people than lots of other jurisdictions.
Last night, I was very privileged to have as speakers Julie Tongs, who is the CEO of the indigenous health centre Winnunga Nimmityjah, and Aileen Blackburn, an indigenous woman from my neck of the woods, East Gippsland, coming from a place called Cann River. Interestingly, she, like me, moved to Canberra for similar reasons. She moved so that she could further her own education and the education of her children, because there was no secondary school in Cann River, just as there is no secondary school in the area that I lived. We chose Canberra because it has a good school system and because it is accessible from the areas where we lived.