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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 August 2018) . . Page.. 2970 ..

MR BARR: To ensure that the levy meets the growing cost of providing those services to the community. That is a reflection of the growing costs of providing those services. The government provides a range of concessions across the board for a number of different utilities use and a number of other concessions and rebates.

There have been changes in eligibility for certain concessions because they are tied to the commonwealth’s eligibility criteria for certain commonwealth payments. That, of course, flows through to eligibility for ACT concession payments. We have reviewed this matter recently and, of course, it is the subject of further ongoing consideration. Most recently, we provided a $50 increase, for example, in the utilities concession.

MR MILLIGAN: Chief Minister, why exactly has the fire and emergency levy increased by 368 per cent for pensioners since 2011-12?

MR BARR: The increase has gone to fund the massive expansion of services in this area.

MS LAWDER: Chief Minister, what impact is the growth in rates and charges levied on senior Canberrans having on their standard of living?

MR BARR: Again, the government seeks to keep all tax increases to an absolute minimum while, equally, providing the maximum level of services that we possibly can. We have a complex interaction between two levels of government in terms of income support. One thing that would be of great assistance is advocacy to increase incomes, rather than one side of politics being solely focused on suppressing the incomes of low income Australians.

Opposition members interjecting

MADAM SPEAKER: Members on my left, please; I was about to call you all to order again.

Budget—pensioner concessions

MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Veterans and Seniors. Minister, the pensioner rebate for general rates has remained capped at $700 since 2015-16. Meanwhile, since 2015-16, rates have increased on average by almost 20 per cent. Why has the pensioner rebate remained capped at $700 while household rates have increased on average by almost 20 per cent?

MADAM SPEAKER: Chief Minister, I assume you are taking that.

MR BARR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. The government has made various changes to concessions and rebates over previous periods, and that has included a comprehensive review of concessions. We have increased them in a number of areas for a number of different categories. We have enhanced eligibility and access for those most in need. It was a comprehensive review of concessions and we sought to target those concessions to those most in need.

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