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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 June 2011) . . Page.. 2305 ..

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: I know how to do my job. Thank you very much, minister.

MR CORBELL: Thank you. I will just have to keep making my point, Mr Assistant Speaker, which is that there were hundreds of people in low-cost accommodation and Mr Smyth had to get it off the government’s books.

What was the other great travesty that Mr Smyth was responsible for when it came to his purported care for those in low income households? It was the then Liberal government’s decision to sell 1,000 Housing ACT properties during their term of government. They sold off 1,000 ACT public housing properties.

This party that all of a sudden is the new convert about the interests of low income households has an appalling record on this matter. And Mr Smyth, as the former minister, has real credibility issues when it comes to his purported concerns for poverty, for people on low incomes, for people who are stuck in some of the most difficult social circumstances. That is his record. That is the previous government’s record. He cannot wash his hands of those terrible decisions.

In contrast, this government is investing in real and direct assistance for people on lower incomes. Today in question time, I was asked about some of the very important measures that this government is undertaking when it comes to assistance to low income earners.

The outreach program that the government has funded in the most recent budget is investing further in these households. Four thousand Canberra households that are low income households—whether they are renting, whether they have a mortgage, whether they are in social housing or whether they are in community or public housing—will be assisted as a result of this program. That program, we know, will deliver savings to those households of between $300 and $500 a year on their utility costs—$300 to $500 a year, on average, on their utility costs because of a direct measure by this government to invest in energy efficiency, to invest in appliance improvement, to invest in retrofitting properties and to make a real difference.

That is this Labor government’s response to cost of living pressures. That is this Labor government’s response to helping those who are most vulnerable. And that is the first and the most important duty of government, particularly a Labor government—to reach out to low income families, people on pensions, people with a disability, and people caring for the sick or the elderly, and say to them: “We will help you. We will provide assistance. We will make sure that you are not left to the raw pressures of utility costs, of other price increases in the economy.”

That is what a Labor government should be doing, and that is what this Labor government is doing. We are proud of our record when it comes to supporting those low income households. Unlike other parts of the economy, unlike other parts of the community, the ability to respond to pricing is much more limited for low income households. They are on fixed incomes or they are on the payment of benefits from government. They simply do not have the protections that those in other parts of the

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