Page 3259 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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Members should be aware that since 2005 this government has implemented an innovative program to provide a rebate and support to pensioners and other recipients of Centrelink concessions to allow them to install a vehicle immobiliser. Since that time, over 650 pensioners in the ACT have gained access to a $200 rebate for the installation of a vehicle immobiliser.

I am very pleased to advise the Assembly that recently I announced a major expansion of this program, which will now provide just under an extra $1 million in funding for vehicle anti-theft programs, including a dramatically expanded vehicle immobiliser scheme. Under this scheme, 3,775 subsidies will be available to recipients of a Centrelink pension. From July next year onwards just over 1,000 subsidies of $100, or 50 per cent, will be available to ACT citizens who do not receive a Centrelink pension but still own an older vehicle more vulnerable to theft.

This is a dramatic increase in the scale and scope of this program. All up it will mean that every year around 5,000 Canberrans will get access to a full or partial rebate enabling them to fit an immobiliser at a set cost into their motor vehicle, making sure that they are less vulnerable to motor vehicle theft.

The beauty of this scheme and the importance of it from the Labor government’s perspective is that it provides assistance to those Canberrans who are less well off and who tend to be older. They have the most to lose if their vehicle is stolen. They have less income to be able to purchase a new vehicle if it is not recovered. And they lose their mobility. They lose their access into the community. They lose their ability to undertake even the simplest task, whether it is going to the doctor, picking up a prescription from the chemist, going to buy groceries and so on.

This new program will be of enormous benefit to those less well off in our community who face the most obvious threat of having their motor vehicle stolen because of the age of their car. The immobiliser scheme currently running in the ACT is a very simple process. I anticipate that the greatly expanded scheme will work along the same lines. It will simply involve an eligible person getting a rebate voucher through Canberra Connect, taking it to an approved auto-electrician and having the immobiliser fitted. The auto-electrician will be able to redeem the voucher through the Council on the Ageing, which administers the scheme. So there will be no up-front costs for those people seeking to get the immobiliser fitted and who are eligible for the 100 per cent rebate.

We are committed to reducing the level of motor vehicle theft in our community. The latest figures from the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council—the report landed on my desk today—highlight that the level of motor vehicle theft remains an issue of concern in the territory. We have responded to this issue by dramatically increasing the availability of vehicle immobilisers, which should play a very important role in reducing the level of motor vehicle theft in our community and helping those Canberrans who, because of the age of their vehicle and their income, are most vulnerable to motor vehicle theft in our city.

MR GENTLEMAN: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Minister, is the government also taking measures to reduce other forms of vehicle theft, such as of motorcycles?

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