Page 3309 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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Now, there has been a lot of noise made by those opposite and their federal colleagues that says the exact opposite of this statement, which is based on data from the Reserve Bank of Australia. Under the Howard government, Labor would have us believe, the average mortgage holder is significantly worse off than at any stage under the previous Labor government whose hallmark, most of us would remember, was high interest rates. If you are young you probably do not know that but, in fact, we remember it very well, those of us who have been around for a while. I would be interested in hearing Mr Stanhope’s position on the findings in the Canberra Times article. If he disagrees with it, I would be most interested in hearing his reasoning.

In my limited time today I would also like to touch on Mr Howard’s announcements from yesterday. I said earlier that housing affordability is a hot topic at the moment and unfortunately, like many such topical issues, it has prompted a lot of talk but very little action from those opposite. In contrast, yesterday’s announcements will have a meaningful result. They will enable more young people to enter the housing market.

It is worth mentioning just a few of the initiatives: tax free home savings accounts for children up to 18 allowing family members or the account holder to contribute a tax deductible total of $1,000 a year; tax-free home savings accounts for adults allowing adults aged between 18 and 39 to contribute up to $10,000 to the account, $1,000 of which is to be deductible; an arrangement to expedite the disposal of 961 hectares of commonwealth land; the creation of a community infrastructure projects program to the tune of $500 million over three years and $100 million for streamlining residents approvals programs. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my federal colleagues on these initiatives. I urge the people of the ACT to support them because they will provide real benefit to the people of Australia and real benefit to our young people.

Just in concluding, Mr Speaker, in the final adjournment discussion before we went into the last break, Dr Foskey made some remarks. She said:

I want to start by thanking my staff for their amazing effort during this and last sitting week. People may not be aware that I have two new staff, a lot of part timers, and it does seem that some members, in particular Mr Mulcahy, are not aware that my office has to deal with absolutely every portfolio. If we make mistakes, I do not go up there and roar at people. That is not my style. I reckon we do the best we can. I have learned not to shrink when Mr Mulcahy casts his glinted eye upon me.

Now, anyone reading that might come to the conclusion that these poor new staff upstairs were responsible for that blunder that was made earlier in the day that Mr Barr and I picked up where Dr Foskey delivered a speech which she had delivered previously and had to resume her seat after that became known in the chamber. But then later on the Thursday night in question I received this message from one of my staff:

Was just talking with one of Foskey’s staffers at the ANU event. She told me that the whole staff tried to tell Foskey that she had already read that speech before but she insisted that she hadn’t and decided to read it.

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