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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2652 ..


poverty. To ignore that fact while discussing poverty and inequality in this city would be incredibly frustrating and really difficult.

Mrs Kikkert rightly pointed out, in her comments on my motion, a range of ways that she thought the government could support more people who were vulnerable. Many of them were great ideas. But she had a long list, and not one of them was that simply giving money to people who do not have money is a very effective way to alleviate poverty or that the over-reliance that some of the most marginalised in our community have on stressed community organisations is, in part, because they do not have the dignity of being able to support themselves through adequate income support payments. Those people have to call 1800 numbers. They have to line up at food banks. They have to know where their local community pantry is, and they have to wait for a while on a public housing waiting list.

No-one in this place takes joy in any of those things and no-one in this place puts a value on those things, but they are the realities of the situation. The ACT government continues to do all that it can do, but it is worth noting that in my motion I call on the government to do a number of things that would not have happened otherwise. That is a reflection of how this government—the crossbench, the executive and the backbench—can collaborate and bring a range of different perspectives to a public policy challenge in a way that gets better outcomes for Canberrans.

I grow increasingly frustrated that the Canberra Liberals wince in their chairs when I mention the dereliction of duty by the federal government, as if they cannot say anything about it. I hear Mrs Jones interjecting. The deputy leader of her political party in the New South Wales state parliament, who has responsibility for managing that budget, took it upon himself to write an article in the Daily Telegraph calling out his own party. We all have choices in politics, and the Canberra Liberals have a choice. The Canberra Liberals have a choice to join with ACT Labor and the ACT Greens in advocating for an immediate rise of income support at a time when Canberra’s most vulnerable desperately need it. Their colleague in the New South Wales parliament has done that in a broadsheet. That is a choice available to them. That is a choice that the Canberra Liberals continue to avoid making.

They have been very critical, but I will give the Canberra Liberals credit because in some instances I agree with them when they talk about the ways that the ACT government can increase supports for the most vulnerable and marginalised in our community. That is why the government today has done exactly that—with $26 million of brand new money. That is why I brought a motion to this Assembly, almost copying and pasting an open letter from peak community organisations to the government, telling the government exactly what it is they need to remain viable in order to provide supports to Canberra’s most vulnerable. We ripped off the letter and we whacked it on the notice paper, and things are going to start happening as a result of that. That was a choice I made when I learned I would have the option of bringing a motion to private members business in today’s sitting.

Each one of the members of the cabinet has a choice when they go into cabinet and make budgetary decisions. They have chosen to give $26 million in the next budget to support services. They have chosen to give $8.63 million of that money to specialist


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