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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 661 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

The reality is that, only a few weeks ago, a report was published, I think by the IPA, demonstrating that the position of the lowest paid in Australian society, relative to other Australians, has been improving in recent years.

Mr Corbell: That well-known aggressive think-tank, the IPA.

MR HUMPHRIES: It states that devices like the GST safety net have provided substantial benefits to people on low incomes, and that this has not led to a deterioration in their position, but, in fact, an improvement in it.

Mr Corbell rushes to pour scorn on that source. Let me put this the other way around: Can you produce evidence that the lowest paid have realised a deterioration in their position in recent years?

Mr Corbell: Yes. The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling has done a lot of research on this.

MR HUMPHRIES: As I recall the NATSEM work, it showed that poverty in the ACT and the Northern Territory was actually improving; that is, there was less poverty in the ACT than there was before.

Mr Corbell: No. You are changing the terms of the argument, Mr Humphries.

MR HUMPHRIES: Okay. You produce the evidence. Mr Corbell, and we will talk about it.

Mr Corbell: No, you produce the evidence. It is your argument.

MR HUMPHRIES: No, you have made the assertion. Mr Speaker, I heard Mr Corbell in silence in this debate. I would ask for the same courtesy.

MR SPEAKER: I have to say, Mr Humphries, you have been inviting debate across the chamber. You sort of reap what you sow.

MR HUMPHRIES: All right, Mr Speaker, if that is the policy you want to adopt.

MR SPEAKER: If you direct your comments through me, Mr Humphries, you will not have any trouble.

MR HUMPHRIES: These comments have been directed to the chamber. We have been told that there is a reduction in the position of those in the lower socio-economic ranks in Australia, and no evidence has been produced to support that assertion. I think, Mr Speaker, we are entitled to see the evidence.

We are told this is the position that has been adopted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It is the union-recommended position and, not surprisingly, it has been adopted by the Australian Labor governments at state and territory level. That is somewhat ironic, given the fact that membership of trade unions in Australia continues to fall. Each year,

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