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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 747 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

message that workers will be found jobs and not simply discarded through some sort of departure lounge. I will assess the amendment on the merits of the debate.

MS TUCKER (11.45): The Greens also will be supporting this motion. What is at the basis of the debate today is really a very important issue, and I think that Chief Minister Humphries' response was totally inadequate from a government that is supposedly interested in social capital. I think I understood Mr Humphries correctly a minute ago when he stood up and said that it was never his government's claim that they would not have involuntary redundancies. I thought they had made a commitment to that effect some time ago. It is interesting if in fact that is the government's position.

I am raising the question of social capital here for a couple of reasons. When you do reading on social capital-there are a number of academics who write o________ there are different interpretations of it-there are a couple of things that are common with all the interpretations, and perhaps the government is moving further away from those understood interpretations. In fact, social capital, in this government's view, does not actually include the concept of trust and trust in community. I guess that is where I see a fundamental contradiction in what government is doing here today and their claims to be committed to social capital, because there is definitely a betrayal implicit in this.

I think Mr Corbell spoke well to the issues. As he said, this is about what is fair. This is about how people who have worked for a long time in Canberra are treated. This is about people who may well be thrown into poverty, basically, and we hear a lot about poverty from this government. We need to understand what it is like for someone who has been on $30,000 a year. We need to understand that they are not likely to have a huge reserve of money in the bank, that they will be living from pay to pay, and that this is a huge trauma and shock to them because they believed they had a secure job.

We also know that this is related to the question of poverty. We have an increasing phenomena, the working poor. Anybody earning $30,000 a year is already in trouble, basically. That is not a good income. I believe that we need to be much more serious about looking at what it is like to live on that level of income in this place, and that just does not happen. We also see people living on less than that who are on government payments.

The federal government's punitive approach to people, and this government's punitive approach through its housing policy to people who are not coping on that very low income, are also quite contradictory to the notion of fairness or justice, or, dare I say it, social capital. In particular, I am talking about housing's policy on people with poor rent records. If you think it is hard on $30,000, look at what some people receiving government benefits are having to live on. I think it is extremely difficult for people on that sort of income to meet all the different financial requirements. Paying the rent may not be the thing that gets the highest priority, and what does that mean if they then become people with a poor rent record? The CEO of ACT Housing-I can't remember his name-said in the newspaper recently that we need to get tougher on these people.

It is quite hard even to access medical care in Canberra any more unless you have $30 in your wallet because there are not that many places you can go to that bulk bill. You probably need to get there by bus, and there may not be a bus anyway to that particular place. There are a whole lot of issues here that I think are not being acknowledged.

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