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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 March 2018) . . Page.. 683 ..

engaging with other groups, too, in addition and simultaneously. We already established at the election that the Liberals cannot walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to delivering policies for our city, but we can and must engage with multiple audiences and multiple channels at the same time.

At the election, I made a commitment to the community on participatory democracy. I said:

I will seize the opportunity of a smaller electorate to deliver better constituent representation through increasing contact with my constituents, especially with those that don’t usually have a voice in our democracy. I will conduct regular, published mobile offices and make myself available to residents on the Southside. I will regularly update people on work in the Assembly and seek feedback—

on key issues affecting people in the region. I said:

… I will represent Labor’s … policies and values in the Assembly and seek feedback on implementation and policy development from residents.

The ACT government’s policy on engagement is entirely consistent with this. We and the Chief Minister welcome tough questions from journalists and hope that they continue to keep governments of either stripe accountable into the future. They also have a responsibility to be independent and fair in their reporting of the news, just as we have the responsibility to be accountable as elected members.

Labor has always supported a well-funded and independent ABC as critical to a fair, inclusive, well-governed society, fending off the Liberals’ attacks on our national broadcaster. We have stood up against changes to cross-media ownership laws and the consolidation of traditional media under the conservative media barons like Murdoch and Rinehart.

Our Labor values have not changed, but our approach to engagement must evolve. I doubt whether I will stop my lifelong habit of listening to ABC 666 in the mornings, because I value the quality of the ABC’s coverage of local stories. But I also know that a majority of Canberrans are not listening to the radio or reading the Canberra Times. That is why we need to continue to engage in new ways, in other ways, as well. That is not about ignoring older Canberrans, but it is about not ignoring younger audiences. To suggest that the Chief Minister has contempt for older people is overreach. He is simply seeking to engage with all audiences and not ignore the channels that younger people engage with.

We will not be lectured on older Canberrans by those opposite. Your party’s actions speak much louder in your approach to older people. Cuts to pension indexation by your party, pensioner concessions, axing the $900 seniors supplement, resetting deeming rate thresholds, cutting the pension to 370,000 pensioners, axing the energy supplement to two million Australians, taking away the pension supplement and refusing to adjust the deeming rates for pensioners are the sorts of things that your party is doing. Yet you come in here and try to suggest that we and the Chief Minister have contempt for older people.

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