Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 March 2010) . . Page.. 1457 ..
That is why I bring it back to why Mr Rattenbury quite clearly drafted this motion to focus on these people—these people who are living here in Canberra today. About one in 10 people are doing it tough, and that includes a lot of children in those households. It is also important, as I said, to focus this down, to get a bit of an idea about some specifics, some ideas, some programs.
Yes, it is true: there are some programs out there that the government funds and delivers. We have talked about the water and energy saving in the territory program, the WEST program. But we need to understand that at the moment, there are about 100 families that are assisted through this program. One part of the motion that Mr Rattenbury has put forward is to extend that. We are going to have to extend those sorts of programs. We are very much going to have to first and foremost target these assistance programs, these types of programs that go out and audit and assist people to save energy—subsidies as well. But first and foremost they need to be targeted to these very low income households. That is why we have brought this on.
As I said, our motion makes clear the impact of climate change. It is here. We cannot be sceptics about it. It is no good for anybody around here. That debate is over. We have moved on. Climate change is real, and climate change is going to have real impacts on real families here in the ACT. That is why it is so timely that we start to move towards this. We know that we have some tough years ahead with the budget. That is why we need to put this on the agenda now. We need to start talking about how we will need to put in some funding and put some focus on those who are going to be at the front line of these increases in energy costs—and why it is so important to do that.
It is interesting to look at the issue around middle income households. There are middle income households who would be vulnerable. They may have family members who have an illness where there are high costs, where they have to support that person. There are many scenarios; we cannot stand here tonight and come up with every one. So that is something that needs to be factored in as well.
But let us first and foremost start somewhere. We cannot just keep putting this off; we have to start somewhere. Therefore, we need to start with these low income households. We know who they are as far as the work that has already been done out there in the territory is concerned. We know who is receiving a Newstart benefit, a disability allowance pension, an age pension and so forth.
It is no good just to say: “It is about costs. It will cost too much. It is all too hard. There is always tomorrow.” As Mr Rattenbury said far more eloquently earlier on, we need to take action now. This is not something into the future. It is time to move forward. That is why I would urge both the Liberal and Labor parties to support what Mr Rattenbury has put forward here tonight—a very clear motion that clearly outlines the current situation; the challenges we face; some very clear, specific ways forward; and the importance of first and foremost focusing on low income households, looking at what sort of policy programs and subsidy supports can be directed to those households. We need to start. We need to start now. Therefore, I commend this motion to the Assembly and urge both the Liberal and Labor parties to support it.