Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2820 ..
Once again I would like to thank Ms Lee for bringing this motion today and supporting Canberrans that are doing it tough, many of whom are seniors. Canberrans, I feel, are being left behind and forgotten by this Labor-Greens government, and I welcome any support for the motion today.
MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (4.34): I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for bringing forward an important motion to discuss poverty in Canberra. It is very important, in the context of the amount of money that the ACT government, in partnership with the federal government, is giving to business, that we look at all parts of our community that have been affected by the pandemic.
We know that the pandemic has exacerbated poverty and shone a light on those who were always doing it tough pre-pandemic. I want to join my Assembly colleagues in quoting the ACTCOSS cost of living report. I found particularly stark the quotes on page 3, where ACTCOSS found that with the increase in JobSeeker last year to $1,100 per fortnight, there was close to a 50 per cent drop in people who were living below the poverty line in Canberra.
The section of the report from which the Leader of the Opposition has drawn her figures for this motion discusses how last year, when the federal government cruelly dropped JobSeeker again in October, the number of people in poverty in Canberra shot right up. JobSeeker remains well below the poverty line. It is cruel, it is completely ineffective, and it is an unfair form of punishment that the federal government inflicts on poor people across this country, including in this city.
It only reinforces the long-held and strongly prosecuted campaign by the formidable Senator Rachel Siewert and the Australian Greens to lift JobSeeker above the poverty line. Eighty dollars a day has been a long campaign fought by the Greens, along with stakeholders such as the Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Unemployed Workers Union and the Australian Medical Association, as well as over 150 more community organisations in this country that have been consistently calling on the federal government to lift Australians out of poverty—150 organisations.
Put simply, Mr Deputy Speaker, if you are a national, subnational or local government leader and you cannot bring yourself to talk about the correlation between federal income support payments and poverty, you are being intellectually dishonest with the community that you serve. The single biggest lever that parliamentarians and policymakers have to bring people out of poverty and onto a living wage is to raise the rate.
I am seriously troubled that the Leader of the Opposition has failed to publicly advocate to her federal colleagues on this issue, despite coming in here and falsely accusing this government of not helping people living in poverty. I am also troubled by what seems to be a little bit of selective quoting by the Leader of the Opposition in order to justify the motion. She failed to mention, when quoting ACTCOSS in her motion, that the council contextualised the rising cost of living with the context of entrenched poverty that the federal government forces people into with inadequate income support payments.