Page 3505 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005
prediction, the in-between prediction, that by 2030 we will have about 381,000 people. Of those, 80,700 will be under the under the age of 19; 181,000 people will be aged 20 to 54; 42,700 people will be in the 55 to 64 bracket and 75,700 will be aged 65 and over.
How do we respond to these figures? What do they say to us and what do they say about the planning we need to do? Let us look at this. If we take this as the middle path—and it is by no means a strong middle path—the number of school-age children in the ACT will fall by another 7,000. The number of people in the broad working age—say 20 to mid-50s—will increase by only 4,700. The number of people who may be interested in part-time work, or who will retire, goes up by about 7,000. The number of older and aged people in our community skyrockets by more than 43,000, from 32,600 to 75,700.
Ageing is a good thing but the problem for us is whether we will have the infrastructure and indeed the workers that Mr Mulcahy talks about in part (2) (a) to service the aged care community. I am told there are currently about 2,000 aged care workers for the 32,000 aged Canberrans we have. When it goes up to 75,700, how many more aged care workers will we need just to cover the aged care population? There is a question: how many more will we need? If it is 2,000 at the moment, when you take it that the number of people over 75 and 85 will triple and quadruple and that of those 40 per cent will need aged care facilities, you are talking about an increase in the number of those of broad working age of 4,700 being absorbed almost entirely in providing for aged care. What happens to the rest of the economy? Absolutely nothing, it fails to grow. If it is not growing, then it is not returning to the government the money it needs to provide the aged care services. That is why Mr Mulcahy has put this motion on the notice paper. Part (1) (a) talks about the importance of population growth for strengthening the economy of the ACT.
The material Dr Foskey put before the Assembly—that it is okay as it is and it will be all right because we will cope somehow—is just ridiculous. In the late 1970s, inner Canberra had 88,000 residents. Although by the end of the 1980s the number of residents had dropped to about 59,000, we still had to maintain the infrastructure; we still had to support the same number of shops; we still had to keep the churches open and have members for the scout troop. It has come back a little with the infill process we started in respect of densification. When last I heard—at the end of the 1990s—it was about 63,000. I assume it is a bit higher now.
The problem is that we have infrastructure that was built for probably a third more. That means that either we all end up paying a third more in taxes or we reduce the services. Nobody wants to see service levels reduced in the ACT; we are very proud of where we live and how we live. That is why this motion is important. It should not be belittled by changing it to “recognises the ACT government’s efforts to address these things”. I think there is goodwill on both sides to make this work. The motion should stand as it is. What we should do is fulfil the promise the government made to make it unashamedly pro small business, because that is the future for the ACT.
MR SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.31): I have to commend Mr Mulcahy for bringing forward this important matter which, of course, is inconveniently uncomfortable for the Treasurer, so he has to deride it. The economic growth of our territory is a most