Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2927 ..
ask the federal government to raise payments to the Henderson poverty line. And when you are doing that, please also talk about artists and the arts sector in that letter, because the federal government clearly still has not heard us.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (4.47): I am pleased to contribute to this debate and thank Mr Braddock for bringing the motion to the Assembly. I have some comments to make on behalf of Ms Lee as well as myself. Mr Braddock’s motion highlights some very important impacts that the current COVID-19 outbreak in the ACT is having on our entire community, but particularly our most vulnerable Canberrans. Many Canberrans have been disproportionately affected, many of whom are already experiencing significant economic and social disadvantage. The pandemic and lockdown have exacerbated and highlighted the 20-odd years of neglect by this government in supporting our Canberrans on lower incomes—Canberrans who are living on or below the poverty line, over 38,000 of them, including more than 9,000 children and more than 9,000 older Canberrans.
Many Canberrans continued to go to work every day throughout the pandemic because they had no other choice. They were supporting the rest of the community and they needed to work to keep their livelihoods—our delivery drivers, our supermarket staff, our bus drivers, our cleaners. Canberrans living in ACT public housing have been experiencing the most appalling and shocking living conditions for far too long under this government.
Our older Canberrans were yesterday acknowledged in this place as also facing cost of living pressures. Over 50,000 Canberrans are aged 65 or older, and that number is growing. They were acknowledged in the ministerial statement on the International Day of Older Persons. That ministerial statement also acknowledged that as lockdown has continued older people have faced increased challenges such as social isolation, additional health and wellbeing concerns, and financial difficulties. Yet so far in this debate, as far as I have heard, no-one has mentioned older Canberrans facing pressures already which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 lockdown.
My parents live in Melbourne—the longest locked down city in the world—and I fear they may never really come out of their homes again. They have lost contact with their friends. They cannot play cards or bowls or golf. They fear going out and going shopping. They have family members drop shopping at the door. They have lost contact with their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. And that is just one example. This will happen across the board with older Canberrans.
Many of us spent time last year and again this year phoning constituents. We have had many, many emails and letters and other contacts. We know Canberrans have been afraid. They are afraid for their health and their life. They are afraid to have contact with people, and I am disappointed that no-one has as yet bothered to mention older Canberrans today.
For all of us, including and especially those disadvantaged and most marginalised, our water and sewerage costs have gone up. Electricity and gas have gone up. Medicines and medical costs have gone up. Food has gone up and our rents in the ACT remain the highest in the country. These exorbitant increases come under the watch of this