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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2931 ..


It is really good that this motion was brought forward today to talk about what will be our recovery and our social recovery plan. We have talked about that as far as the federal government’s impact in this place and with those people in our community. This is not about pointing the finger; this is about asking for the federal government to give us a hand so we can support the people in our community that need it most. The way that they can be supported is through their incomes. When the federal government made those adjustments last year to whatever the social welfare payments are called or will be called into the future—it keeps changing—it made a huge impact on the lives of people who could not afford to get ahead or even just to have their noses above water in the ACT.

We saw it with public housing tenants who were able to enjoy a Christmas without going into debt because they had JobSeeker payments and other payments to support them over a period where they would normally go into debt; because they do not get the chance to buy presents and celebrate with their families normally. But last year they got their chance because the commonwealth did their bit.

That is what we are asking for continuously. The Chief Minister, I, Minister Rattenbury and now Mr Braddock, through his motion, are imploring the Canberra Liberals to please join with us to call on the federal government to do their bit—to lift the rate so people have some dignity in their lives and they can actually have a celebration and look forward to Christmas this year knowing they will have that extra money in their pocket. This is about those people who are more impacted by COVID-19 and this second time around more than any of us. That is all we are asking. It is literally a signature on a piece of paper asking for the Canberra Liberals’ support to write to the Prime Minister and ask him to do that.

This is another opportunity where we can show in the ACT that we can do things together. We are a small government that punches well above its weight in supporting people. But how about a tripartisan approach now when people most need it? This is above and beyond politics. This is a signature on paper to give people a hand up.

I will leave it there. I support Mr Braddock for bringing this motion in today. I have been happy to hear that everybody here cares very deeply what happens to those people in our community. So let’s get together now, put the signature on paper and get a bit more help from the federal government to support those individuals.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (5.07): I thank Mr Braddock for bringing this motion to the Assembly and echo the words of the Deputy Chief Minister in regard to this. We have over the past two years seen an unprecedented period for the Canberra community where we have not only faced the global COVID-19 pandemic but smoke, bushfire, and hail events. We know that all of these events have affected the wellbeing of our community, but none more than the COVID-19 crisis.

As others have talked about, Canberrans have experienced social isolation; they have missed the chance to say goodbye to a loved one who is at the end of their life; have not been able to meet new grandchildren; they have postponed a well-planned


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