Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2919 ..
But there is one matter that is obvious. It is that the ACT government is using every available lever to assist Canberrans on low incomes, from significantly increasing food relief to eviction moratoriums to providing more funding for temporary accommodation and homelessness services, as well as using all the mechanisms we have to provide some ongoing financial relief.
These levers, these mechanisms that are within the ACT government’s control, are not enough. The ACT government cannot match the impact of the federal government. The pandemic showed us it is entirely possible to raise all income support packages to above the Henderson poverty line. This includes JobSeeker, the age and disability pensions, and student and carer payments. We know this because it is what happened last year. In doing so, countless lives were saved from both COVID-19 and severe mental distress.
In cutting income support payments back below the poverty line, the federal government has actively put people back into harm’s way. A stroke of the federal government pen can achieve what every single ACT government lever and mechanism cannot. Therefore, it would be remiss in any action looking to address poverty and economic and social inequality to not call for the federal government to do more.
Now, with all due respect to Mr Barr, it appears that his influence with the federal government on this matter is limited. Therefore, I have made the call for all parties here to lobby their federal counterparts. The Prime Minister might choose to ignore a Labor Chief Minister but may listen to a Canberra Liberal. The leader of the federal opposition might ignore the ACT Greens but might listen to ACT Labor.
To achieve change, we need a cacophony of voices in the federal sphere and, to achieve that, we need every possible avenue of influence being used. Therefore, I hope the Assembly agrees that the leaders of each party here add their individual names to this call, writing to their federal counterparts so as to influence as many parties as possible in the Australian parliament so that they may speak and act with a common purpose.
I hope that a stroke of the federal government pen may once more lift 36,000 Canberrans out of poverty, so they can fully participate in Canberra’s community instead of worrying about their next meal or the next bill that they have to pay. Just imagine the extra creativity, connections, engagement and activity these Canberrans could unleash, making Canberra even greater. Imagine what more the ACT government could achieve if these people were lifted out of poverty—how more funds could be directed to other uses rather than applying bandaids to bullet holes. In closing, I will end by saying: let us get through this as a community because I am, you are, we are Canberrans.
MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (4.24): I thank Mr Braddock for this motion and for the opportunity to address how the ACT government can work with our community to