Page 760 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 1 April 2008

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Concessions Program—

Review—conducted by the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, dated March 2008.

Government response, dated March 2008.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the papers.

It is my pleasure to table, for the information of members, the report of the review of ACT government concessions and the government’s response to this report. As members are aware, the ACT government provides concessions through six agencies to support target groups with such costs as their energy, water, public transport, drivers licence and spectacles. These concessions are largely targeted at people on low incomes, disadvantaged households and seniors. Concessions range from rebates on water and energy to discounted tickets on ACTION buses.

We provide these concessions because we are committed to maintaining and developing a society in which everyone has the equality of opportunity to participate in daily activities. The government undertook this review because of our concerns that concessions had developed over time in an ad hoc way and certainly welcomed Dr Foskey’s motion in May of last year to initiate this review of government concessions in the territory.

The ad hoc development led to confusion as to what concessions are available and who administers them. Quite simply, some people are missing out because they were unaware of their full entitlements across a range of concessions. As a result, some concessions are clearly not meeting the government’s objective of promoting access, equity and participation in the community. The government commissioned a number of projects scoping various aspects of concessions, including the social impact assessment of climate change in the ACT.

Following debate in May 2007 in this Assembly, the government announced it would undertake this full review of ACT government concessions. It is this review that I table today along with the government response. Today I also take the opportunity to announce major reforms to existing concessions that will considerably assist recipients. These reforms also include extending eligibility to new population groups.

As I said, this government is committed to supporting and encouraging people to participate in all aspects of life in the territory. While the ACT performed favourably in the 2008 Report of government services, which indicated that we have better health, better incomes and better lifestyles in general, there are many people who do not enjoy these benefits.

Data from NATSEM in October 2007 showed that low-income households in the ACT are more likely to be older and headed by women. They are invariably not in the labour force, live in public housing and are reliant on government benefits. These households can comprise single parents, single people or families with four or more children.

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