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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 510 ..


MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (5.02), in reply: In closing, I should say that I am disappointed. That is true, but it goes beyond that. It is a very sad day in this place, regarding the people who hold positions of decision-making, the people who hold the power to actually do something about an issue that is of concern to so many in the community—we are talking about over 38,000 Canberrans living in poverty, including 8,000 children, and we have government ministers, all three, saying that they know exactly what the causes are; they know exactly what the reasons are. If that is the case, why are we in this situation right now?

If they know exactly what the levers are, if they know exactly what the causes are, why are we here, still debating? Why do we still have 8,000 Canberra children going without essentials in schooling, social services and food? Why do we have 25,000 Canberrans facing rental stress? This just highlights, again, the government’s attitude that they know best.

They are good at talking the talk. We know this. They have had 20 years. It is not good enough for ministers of this government to come into this chamber and say, “It’s nothing to do with us; it is all the feds’ fault.” If they do not control any of the levers that will lift 38,000 Canberrans out of poverty then what are they doing there? The Chief Minister talks about all the stats, everything, all the reports, and says that we know it all. What is the outcome that has been achieved with all that knowledge? Minister Davidson talks about all the great work, apparently, that the ACT government has done. Do not forget: this is an ACT government that she has been part of for four months.

We are talking about hidden disadvantage. We are talking about the silent disadvantage and we are talking about the unseen disadvantage. If the government knows it all, why does it still exist? You cannot blame the factors that belong in the federal sphere if the ACT is the only jurisdiction that broke the trend, where rental affordability decreased. You cannot come into this place and take credit for all of the good things but then say, “No, we don’t actually control the levers.”

Ms Vassarotti says that we are not going to waste the time of the community sector in doing more consultations. Let us not forget that ACTCOSS, one of the groups that she referred to specifically, supported this call for a poverty task force. I hope that Minister Vassarotti realises that in voting against this motion she is denying a young female the opportunity for a transformational experience, to make a difference and to contribute to doing work to stamp out poverty and disadvantage in this city. I hope she can live with that.

Minister Davidson mentioned that apparently I said we need to throw out everything that we have learnt in the last 20 years. Do not put words in my mouth. That is not what I said at all. In fact, the reason why it would be good timing now to have another commission is that we can build on what we have learnt, what we know and what we have gathered in the last 20 years.

Do not come into this place thinking you know it all and say that there is nothing you can do. That is utter rubbish. It is the Canberra families—the 38,000 Canberrans,


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