Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 August 2018) . . Page.. 3352 ..
celebrating and respecting our diverse communities. I commend this budget to the Assembly.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (5.44): It appears that many seniors in our community are disappointed and feel resigned to stoic acceptance that this is a government that do not really like them. They provide a small amount of money in a number of different areas but not enough money to achieve too much except fill a glossy magazine so that the government can pretend that they care.
Firstly, I will speak about duty concessions. There has been a steady increase in applicants over the last 10 years, but the government have not provided certainty past 30 June 2019. This is a scheme that assists eligible pensioners who own a residential home to move to accommodation more suited to their needs—for example, moving from a house to a townhouse—by the scheme reducing the conveyance duty payable on their purchase of a residential home or residential vacant land. We talk about helping people to move to more suitable accommodation, but it appears we may be making it more difficult for them to do that and less financially viable.
I also mention the 12-month trial of the free senior and concession off-peak bus travel. It is still only promised to continue as a trial, even though there was a 28 per cent increase in weekday bus trips during off-peak periods that qualified for free travel. This brings a lot of benefits to our seniors: greater inclusion in the community, independence and cost savings and a reduction in the cost of living for vulnerable Canberrans. Now we see potential changes and cuts to the bus network which will leave some vulnerable older Canberrans even more isolated. We talk a lot about the flexible bus, but the flexible bus system is not that flexible when you have to book well in advance. This is a concern for older Canberrans, especially those living on their own.
We talked about the seniors card quite a bit during the estimates process. It seems that including a senior’s name on the cards would ensure that seniors will be better placed to get reciprocal rights across the country. The minister said he had not heard of issues, but I have certainly heard of issues with people getting reciprocal rights interstate. If I have heard about them I do not understand why the department and the minister have not heard about them. An answer to a question on notice we put in said it would take up to 10 days to receive a seniors card if it had to be individually made. However, licences and IDs given at Access Canberra can be made at the time of application, so I am not quite sure why it would take 10 days to put the name onto a seniors card.
There is also an issue about how you better track seniors cards. According to the 2016 census data there were 55,985 people in the ACT that met the age and work requirements to be eligible for a seniors card. However, there are currently 69,905 seniors cards in circulation, which is about 20 per cent more cards than eligible people. This should be investigated and a better way of managing the card process put into place.
I will briefly touch on age-friendly suburbs. This is a great initiative. I have seen some changes in Monash, for example, and some other suburbs. It appears, however, to be