Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3643 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
problems with the motion, obviously we should take that into account. But it is eminently sensible to call on the government to develop a proposal to provide concessions to all people on low incomes. That is something that should be done. Rates have increased significantly. Property values have increased significantly.
At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.
MR STEFANIAK: Significant concessions have been provided to pensioners, including age pensioners. Indeed, they have the ability to elect to have the amount for their rates deducted from their estate. It would seem that lots of pensioners, being very family oriented, make an effort, and it is a big effort for a person on an age pension, to pay the rates at the time they fall due so that they will not be a burden on their estate, even though I think that it was a very sensible move to enable rates to be taken off the value of an estate.
Certainly, there are concessions now, but I think that the system should be looked at to see whether the concessions can be increased and whether there are other groups of people to whom concessions should be extended. My colleague Mr Cornwell will be moving an amendment to extend the concessions to include low-income, self-funded retirees. Those of us who have been around for a while will recall the very significant problems low-income, self-funded retirees experience.
They have basically a weekly amount which is not necessarily indexed. They are really badly affected when a low level of interest is available. Many people were very badly caught when interest rates went down considerably in the early 1990s. That affected low-income, self-funded retirees immensely. Lots of self-funded retirees were really hurt then. I think that it is important to include them in this proposal that the government is being asked to develop.
I tend to agree with Ms Tucker that it is more appropriate that the government do so than a committee. I am especially interested in seeing just where the various studies have actually led us to date. There might be something that the government can tell us today about that. Certainly, it is something that the government can build on in terms of developing a proposal to bring back to the Assembly by the last sitting day in December. I do recall some work being done. Probably a reasonable amount of work has been done in this area in the not too distant past.
That Mr Quinlan's amendment be agreed to.
The Assembly voted-