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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3378 ..

Mr Stanhope: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

In reply to Mr Cornwell's question, I have made no comment about an Options Paper to arise from the report of the ACT Poverty Task Group "Sharing the Benefits".

I presume that Mr Cornwell is referring to the review of ACT concessions, which was one of the recommendations (recommendation No 12), made by the ACT Poverty Task Group.

The review is at an advanced stage, as the mapping exercise to identify all concessions has already been completed, and an extensive round of community consultations has occurred resulting in the production of an Issues Paper.

The Government is currently in the process of developing a Policy Options Paper in consultation with stakeholders including: the ACT Council of Social Services, the ACT Council on the Ageing, the ACT Youth Coalition, CARE Financial Services, Volunteering ACT, the ACT Youth Coalition, ACT Shelter, the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled, and the Association of Independent Retirees.

The Policy Options Paper is programmed for consideration by the Government in November 2002.

Originally, it was anticipated that this work would be completed by August 2002. However, following debate in the ACT Legislative Assembly about extending pension benefits to holders of Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards, and reciprocal transport concessions for holders of a State/Territory Seniors Card, the Government has given an undertaking that it would broaden the scope of the review to include these matters. Accordingly, it has been necessary to extend the timeframe for the development of the Policy Options Paper to November 2002 in order to accommodate this additional work.

The Government is committed to a cohesive and integrated community where fairness and equality are the ground rules for our social programs, and will ensure that the review of concessions directs the greatest assistance to those with the greatest needs, and develops options for older people that encourage healthy ageing.

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