Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 507 ..

Finally, I want to affirm that this government is committed to calling for fair and equitable economic policies from Ms Lee’s federal Liberal colleagues. The big levers of poverty in Canberra are controlled by the Morrison government. Inadequate policies on JobSeeker and other welfare payments, capital gains tax discounts, negative gearing, inadequate funding for primary health care through the Medicare Benefits Scheme, and inadequate funding for the specialist homelessness sector are all in the federal government’s control and have significant impacts on the extent of poverty and social inclusion in Canberra.

I am proud to be part of a government that established the Jobs for Canberrans program and the Canberra Relief Network to support many Canberrans through the COVID-19 pandemic. Beneficiaries included families who would otherwise have experienced food insecurity and people without permanent residency visas who are ineligible for federal government support. This government delivered for our community, doing what we could to supplement inadequate commonwealth solutions, and we will continue to advocate against the Morrison government’s plan to end the JobSeeker supplement.

I implore everyone in this Assembly to do the same—call on the Morrison government to revoke its decision to throw almost 20,000 more Canberrans into poverty and permanently raise the rate. This should be a priority for Ms Lee and her colleagues. I assure this Assembly that the ACT government will act on what we already know and will continue to provide support services to assist Canberrans in need.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (4.53): I thank Ms Lee for the opportunity to discuss the Poverty Task Group project. This is an issue that I have a passion for, having worked in the area for many decades, and also an issue that, as Ms Lee notes, I have some unique knowledge about and insight into, having been seconded to work as a project leader that supported the task group and led the development of project reports at the ACT Council of Social Service in 1999 and 2000.

As my colleagues have noted, the previous Poverty Task Group project ran nearly two decades ago and was established at a very different time for the ACT. Canberra had only been self-governing for 10 years, so there was a significant need to understand the extent and nature of poverty in our community and establish recommendations for action. It was a time when people rarely realised or understood that poverty was an issue in the ACT. It was not something that was spoken about. There was little data or research on what the extent or the impact of the issue was for Canberra. There was little recognition of the work of frontline workers that were working in this area.

With self-government, the ACT could now make recommendations and decisions on things like concessions, health and education. There was extensive policy work and research to do to understand what the issues were and what levers the ACT government could use to ensure that people on lower incomes were able to be supported to be part of the Canberra community.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video