Page 1384 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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of life by enabling retired people to move between the states and territories but also it could well generate additional expenditure in those communities.

I was looking earlier today at a report prepared by the House of Representatives inquiry some time ago into the concession available to low-income Australians. It reflected that the Queensland government, for instance, acknowledged that pensioners would bring money to the state as tourists but argued that because of the extent of Queensland’s rail network covering popular tourist destinations the high usage of concessional travel would result in a loss to the state government.

That attitude, Mr Speaker, is disappointing. There is an opportunity now to reignite that discussion about the seniors card and I would urge the ACT government to become active in that matter. They seem to be able to meet with their colleagues in New South Wales on tax matters. Here is a great opportunity in Seniors Week for them to reopen discussions and try to get this concession for the benefit of our senior citizens.

Seniors Week

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.06): Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate the organisers of Seniors Week and acknowledge the fine contribution that seniors have made and continue to make to all facets of life in Canberra. Just recently, as we know, many hundreds of Canberrans who have been resident for 50 years and more have had their contributions recognised through receipt of the Chief Minister’s Gold Award.

We are fortunate to have such a diverse and involved population of older Canberrans. However, the proportion of older people is increasing at a greater rate here than anywhere else in Australia and it is important that we continue to use the skills and experience of these people to the benefit of the whole community.

As the Chief Minister said at the breakfast yesterday, which was attended by me and a number of my Assembly colleagues, our society has become very youth oriented. However, by their sheer numbers, those of us who are older will be recognised and our contribution acknowledged. However, young people have much to offer to the older members of our community. Those amongst us who are grandparents can attest to that. We should do everything in our power to bring young people into contact with the aged in our community, particularly those who are cut off from their normal supports and the joys of extended families.

Older Canberrans have much to offer to the young—their experience, the wealth of their memories, their wisdom, their time and their patience—all of this in an era when we seem to have such little time at hand, little time to share with those who are both older and younger than ourselves. Indeed, Mr Speaker, this is something we should reflect on today as we have been reminded in this place this morning about the unpredictable nature of and the uncertainty surrounding our life and our death.

Whilst speaking this morning to the condolence motion for Pope John Paul II, Mr Mulcahy remarked that the pope was 58 years of age when he attained office and then spent almost the next three decades working tirelessly for a better world. In my 63rd year, when many of my peers are looking to retire from paid work and, indeed, many have already done so, I have begun a new phase of my life in this place and I believe that

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