Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 March 2005) . . Page.. 1021 ..
Ms MacDonald: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Yet again Mr Mulcahy strays off the point of the matter of public importance before the Assembly today.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Mulcahy presents alternatives to the Canberra gold certificate recipients. I think that is in the context of the debate.
MR MULCAHY: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do not intend to go down the long road of policy debate; I just want to illustrate what would, I think, impress so many more of our citizens. They would be impressed if we took their needs seriously enough to ensure that they have aged accommodation; if we ensured that the older people around the inner parts of the city are less prone to injury and falls by ensuring that footpaths and lighting are of a satisfactory standard; and if, in the course of tax policy, we addressed the issue of escalating value in real estate, which is not necessarily supported by cash flow. I know the government has looked at ways of assisting older people through rates concessions, but anyone who has dealt with older people knows that many of them have a preoccupation about not wanting to leave debt.
MR SPEAKER: I think you are stretching it a bit now, Mr Mulcahy.
MR MULCAHY: Yes, Mr Speaker; I hear you. I think it is important that we all recognise the contributions of our older residents. People who have had a long life in the territory have seen dramatic change. They have seen some tremendous investments in facilities in this territory, initially through the commonwealth when it had broader responsibility for the activities of the territory; and we live today to enjoy many of those facilities. If you talk to older citizens you will hear them relate what a very small and localised town this was not that many years ago, when just about everybody knew one another. The territory still has many of the dynamics of a smaller community but, obviously as we grow up and expand in numbers, that familiarity diminishes.
Whilst I do not want to denigrate in any way the recipients who have received these awards and I do not criticise the Chief Minister in making those awards—I accept that it was a good initiative; I was moved enough to suggest people who would be appropriate—my strong feeling is that we need to be fair dinkum about what we are doing here with older people. Give them greater priority; they are a growing part of our community. Governments of all levels in Australia, and in other countries, know that we will have a crisis on our hands if we do not move pretty quickly now to cater for the retiring baby boomers. I think it behoves the Assembly and the government to tighten up the priority we are giving to the needs of that section of our community.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.06): There is no doubt, as Ms MacDonald pointed out, that some wonderful people live and work in Canberra. A percentage of them received recognition last weekend and I congratulate them and commend them for their work. I think that the move away from awarding just one Canberra citizen of the year is a good one, because it recognises that we are a community, not just a bunch of individuals. However, we need to be sure that awards of any kind connect and not divide us. A number of events associated with the Celebrate Canberra and big birthday were and are being held. I am sure that these events were and are enjoyed by many families and other groups.