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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 502 ..


We can see the posters about affordable housing and housing for all on the office doors. We can read their pledges in the parliamentary agreement, but in truth they really are just meaningless platitudes and feel-good statements without action by those in a position to deliver it.

I was encouraged to read in a recent Canberra Times article on Greens MLA and environment minister Ms Vassarotti that she pledged to abolish homelessness by 2025. This is a laudable objective, and in her new role as Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services I wish her well. If that truly is a goal she wants to achieve in her time here, surely—surely—she must agree that a poverty task force that can investigate current causes of poverty and can access the best of social, financial and economic indicators is a sensible option. After all, she is familiar with the transformational impact of a poverty task force.

In Ms Vassarotti’s inaugural speech last December, she referred to a special opportunity to get involved in the very first poverty inquiry, the same inquiry I refer to in my motion. Ms Vassarotti called her involvement in this task force “transformational”. She went on to say that she was “immensely grateful” that she was able “to contribute to a project that changed the face of our city’s understanding of poverty and disadvantage and whose legacy, I believe, can still be seen today”.

Ms Vassarotti now has a special opportunity to be involved in another transformational experience—this time as an MLA and as a minister. I urge her and her Greens colleagues to support this motion, to inspire the next generation of leaders to have their opportunity for a transformational experience, to play their part in changing the face of our city’s understanding of poverty and disadvantage and to leave their mark to be seen in another 20 years.

It has been 20 years since the first Poverty Task Group first deliberated on this issue—20 years. Circumstances have changed, but the fundamental issues remain. Idle promises, bandaid solutions and turning a blind eye are not the correct approach.

I take this opportunity to thank Mr Coe for his leadership, vision and passion for this initiative. His tireless advocacy to make Canberra more affordable for those who need it most is well known. I, as the new Leader of the Canberra Liberals, am happy to carry on this work. Thank you, Alistair. Your work ethic and dedication to serving our community is second to none and your work on this very important issue will not be in vain.

If this Assembly is to stand up for all Canberrans and if we want to make our great city accessible, sustainable and inclusive for everyone, we must address this silent and, frankly, shameful issue of poverty and disadvantage right on our doorstep. A poverty task force can bring all the best minds, the best evidence, the best hearts and the right backing and credibility to address the underlying causes and the range and depth of reasons and find solutions. I commend my motion to the Assembly.

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (4.35): I thank


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