Page 3892 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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Another of the responsibilities of the community inclusion board is to advise on and monitor a poverty-proofing trial based on the Irish model and other experiences. The aim of the trial is to provide a framework for assessing ACT government policies and programs at design and review stages to ensure that government decisions do not act to increase the levels or causes of poverty. As part of the trial, it is important that we recognise that measures and definitions of poverty do not concentrate only on economic aspects. The government’s sustainability policy—people, place and prosperity—recognises the need to invest in our social capital to achieve future prosperity for all Canberrans. It acknowledges the connection between economic, social and environmental aspects of wellbeing.

That report also suggests a number of definitions and measurements that can be adopted and applied to allow the effective and practical implementation of poverty proofing in the ACT. I am happy that the government is to implement a poverty-proofing trial using the Irish model as part of its midpoint evaluation of breaking the cycle—the ACT homelessness strategy. There are obvious links between homelessness and poverty, and the homelessness strategy sets out a four-year blueprint to respond to the causes and effects of both. That is why the midpoint evaluation of the homelessness strategy is an ideal time to run a poverty-proofing test. It will allow us to recognise now if the directions we are taking in responding to homelessness are inadvertently having the opposite impact and contributing to poverty and homelessness.

In concluding this description of some of the initiatives the ACT government has taken to respond to poverty and some of the causes and effects of it, and particularly the importance of meaningful paid employment as a response to people living in poverty, I reiterate that the government will support the motion Dr Foskey has moved today. The motion asks us to note in relation to people living in poverty in the ACT the links between unemployment, underemployment and ongoing cycles of poverty.

In responding to that the government acknowledges the increased vulnerability as a result of federal government policy. We have debated that fairly extensively in the past two days. I think we need to continue to do that over the rest of this year, and indeed in years to come. It calls on the government to provide an analysis of employment rates. We are more than happy to do that. It asks us to investigate a targeted employment creation and support strategy focusing on business support and wage subsidy schemes. We are happy to do that work and report back to the Assembly. We will do that of course without, at this stage, making any commitments.

DR FOSKEY: (Molonglo) (5.29), in reply: I am delighted that at least we will have a bipartisan approach to this issue, and I am very sorry it is not a tripartisan approach. Let me start by addressing some of the issues raised by members of the Liberal Party. I thank them for giving their perspectives. I recognise that they acknowledge that poverty is an important issue, as was said by both Mrs Dunne and Mrs Burke. I guess that ideological divide is one they refuse to cross, and I think that is an extreme limitation in tackling this issue.

We have seen what the approach espoused by Mrs Dunne—free market, rule of law and limited government in terms of taking control of the economy—has done for many countries. Australia is lucky—it is on the receiving end of a lot of the benefits of a global

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