Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 3913..
MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):
Indeed, we are fortunate enough as a society that most people can enjoy a reasonably comfortable standard of living. However, once we look beyond the traditional concept of what constitutes poverty, we see that there is an increasing number of Australians who struggle to meet the bare necessities of life, such as having adequate amounts of food, adequate standards of housing, the ability to pay amenities bills and the ability to afford basic medical and dental treatment. Indeed, tackling poverty in a constructive and sustainable way will be challenging.
The Australian Council of Social Service made a number of recommendations on reducing poverty and addressing its causes: firstly, the development of a national antipoverty plan to take coordinated action across all levels of government to meet targets which reduce poverty and alleviate the causes of poverty; secondly, increasing the rate of the lowest social security payments to pension levels, with added supplements for the costs of disability and working for unemployed people; thirdly, additional employment assistance for the long-term unemployed to help them become ready for work; fourthly, maintenance of the minimum wage to reduce poverty of working households; fifthly, increased access to affordable housing and rent assistance; and, sixthly, improved affordability of essential health and community services such as dental care, childcare, disability services and respite care.
Mr Speaker, clearly there is much to be done in Australia to tackle poverty and develop sustainable improvements in the standard of living of Australians, all of whom are entitled to have access to adequate levels of food, shelter, education and medical treatments. I commend all those volunteers in our community, particularly Mrs Stasia Dabrowski, who work tirelessly to help the most vulnerable in our society.
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (6.12): I rise to highlight an ironic twist in one of the major subjects of debate here today. I am looking at a newspaper article in the good old Canberra Times about a couple of young Red Hill primary school kids, Nicole Armstrong and her sister, who are absolute bookworms. In fact, 10-year-old Nicole was today awarded second prize in the Chief Minister's reading challenge for 2006. She is a prolific reader and is well known for that. From where did she borrow most of her books? Griffith library. Here we are looking at yet another impact of the decision by this government regarding this very precious little community centre.
I would like to pick up on a couple of points made today. We had the minister saying, "Look, it is okay. In the major cities the communities do not have this sort of library service, a four or five-kilometre radius service. They are getting bigger and bigger."I take offence at that. What are we doing? Are we dumbing down our own standards because the standards in other capital cities are sliding away? Of course they would be sliding away because they are all subject to Labor government governance. It is about time we started rating our standards against our own benchmark, rather than simply collapsing along with the rest of the communities around the country which are badly governed by Labor governments and are seeing their fundamental services decaying.
Mr Speaker, I thought that in the various debates today we had the absolute pickle: two gags on one subject on one day. I would have to say that that probably qualifies