Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2814 ..
particularly those who do not have the same chances as the rest of us, so that they have an equal chance at a great education in their life, and what flows from it. I commend my amendment to the Assembly and I look forward to hearing future contributions to this conversation.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.12): I welcome Ms Lee bringing this discussion forward this afternoon because it is one that this Assembly should be thinking about. Ms Lee is right that poverty is a critical issue for this Assembly to focus on and take measures to address. We have between about five and 12 per cent of people in the ACT living below the poverty line. These are mostly people reliant on social security payments and the variation in the rate occurs primarily based on the level of their social security payments.
These are people that have their opportunities in society significantly limited. They can struggle to access the basic needs of life that most of us take for granted. There are a range of concomitant effects, such as worse health outcomes and the passing of an intergenerational disadvantage. This issue, of course, is a key focus for the Greens as a party, and you will see this ethos in our election commitments, our policy platform and the initiatives we have brought to the parliamentary and governing agreement and that we have always brought to this Assembly.
The ACT government has a range of initiatives and programs that are designed to assist people living in poverty—everything from social and health programs, programs that support housing options and programs focusing on disability and mental health. Poverty is a complex issue. It is multifaceted, and it is hard to tackle from one angle alone. Poverty intersects with a range of issues like health, gender, violence and issues affecting First Nations community members.
When it comes to initiatives that can make the most significant difference to poverty, this is quite clearly through income support. Income support has a direct impact and supports people to have choice and control over their lives in a more direct manner than many other government programs. That income support is the responsibility of the commonwealth. This is an issue that Ms Lee’s motion does not recognise. Social security payments and other support payments are critical to the levels of poverty and housing stress faced by people in the ACT.
The biggest levers of poverty in our city are actually controlled by the commonwealth 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.
This is a view well-supported by experts. We have all heard the Chief Minister mention the work done by the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, which examined the impacts on poverty and housing stress of different policies. It found that the poverty gap lowered significantly when the COVID-supplemented JobSeeker was at its maximum rate. Similarly, it found that increasing the social security payments