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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2645 ..


In the very first sitting week this year, we took the opportunity to call on those opposite to stop talking and start taking this issue seriously. We were ignored, but we have not given up and, to be perfectly clear, we have no intention of giving up.

For this reason I have moved my amendment, which calls once again for the creation of a poverty task force to provide a comprehensive strategy for how to stop and then reverse the growing number of Canberrans who can no longer afford a roof over their heads or proper food on their plates. The impact of the current lockdown has made this proposal even more essential.

The last time that the Canberra Liberals brought this proposal to the Assembly, the Chief Minister tried to deflect any responsibility by laying all blame at the feet of the commonwealth government, just as Johnathan has done today. I have spoken to enough Canberrans to know that this strategy—

Mr Gentleman: A point of order.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Gentleman.

Mr Gentleman: As the Liberals indicated earlier, Mr Deputy Speaker, members of this parliament should be referred to by their parliamentary names, as was the case with the Prime Minister earlier.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, indeed.

MRS KIKKERT: I withdraw; Mr Davis.

I have spoken to enough Canberrans to know that the strategy did not work very well for Mr Barr last time, and I suspect that it will work even less so this time. Canberrans are a clever lot, and all but the most partisan can see through flimsy excuse-making. As we frequently have to remind those opposite when they forget what they were elected to do, this is not the federal parliament. We are the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory. Canberrans expect their local government to provide solutions, not excuses.

I understand that Labor and the Greens may be reluctant to have a poverty task force tell them that some of their policy setting or budget priorities are wrong. I am the mother of five children; I both understand and recognise such defensiveness. But now is not the time to be defensive. If a poverty task force tells us there is absolutely nothing that the ACT government can do differently to alleviate disadvantage in this territory, I think we can all agree that this would be worth knowing, and the Chief Minister could crow about this finding until the next election. It is pretty obvious to everyone, however, politician and punter alike, that the reluctance of those opposite is not based on the fear that they might be told that they are doing a good job. The only question at this point is whether their pride is more important than people.

People in our community are hurting—quite possibly, more people than at any other time in the territory’s existence. Community sector organisations have been struggling


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