Page 2392 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 28 June 2005
Furthermore, the government appears to be implying that it has comprehensively responded to the inquiries. It is my belief that the government’s response to the Gallop report, in particular, has been incomplete, with little progress against several major recommendations such as auditing government services, reducing the usage and turnover of casual staff and addressing issues of choice and security of tenure in supported accommodation.
Finally, I would like to address rate increases and poverty impact. I am concerned that the major revenue initiative of this budget, namely, the increase in land rates, is socially regressive and will have a relatively harsh impact on many low-income households who are not eligible for pensioner concessions. For example, in the suburbs with the highest rates, such as Ainslie, we find the highest concentrations of the elderly, many of whom are asset rich because they own their houses but income poor. At a time when the government is claiming to have a commitment to address housing affordability, this is a move in the wrong direction.
In the estimates committee I questioned the Treasurer about the extent to which any attempt was made to measure the impact that the increase in land rates would have on poverty and housing affordability in the ACT. The Treasurer indicated that pensioner concessions had been extended and that other residents had the option to defer the payment of rates. But this option is only available to pension cardholders. However, it was clear that no further analysis of the impact of this measure was undertaken. I believe that there is the potential for this to have a negative impact.
I strongly urge the government to undertake a full and proper analysis of the impact of land rate increases on low-income households that are not recipients of income support before implementing the measure. I also urge the government to fulfil its commitment in the social plan to trial a poverty proofing process based on the successful Irish model, to ensure that government decisions do not act to increase the levels or causes of poverty.
I will just explain here what poverty proofing means because there was a question that did get asked in the estimates committee process. Poverty proofing is a process by which government agencies assess policies and programs at design and review stages in relation to the likely impact they will have on poverty and on inequalities that are likely to lead poverty.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (5.32): Mr Speaker, I will make one more comment on the Treasury area. The Treasurer has also claimed that the impacts of McLeod, Vardon and Gallop have led to increased expenditure by the government. It is interesting that the Treasurer responded to a question on notice that suggests that money on the Vardon recommendations started being spent in the year 2002-03, which, of course, is a full year before the Vardon committee reported.
It leaves you with an interesting dilemma: if Vardon reported in May-June 2004 and the government, as is claimed by this answer to a question taken on notice, was spending money on Vardon and child protection in 2002-03 and 2003-04, then either the money being spent cannot be attributed to the problem or the government knew the problem before the minister claimed she was informed and was spending to fix it. That would cover Mr Corbell’s time as the minister for family services as well.