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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 April 2008) . . Page.. 1223 ..

particular age, to reduce waiting lists; and a teens program. That means that the money is in for teens and out for older people. That is not to say that teens are not worthy, but the needs of older people are still substantial and are not being addressed by the Rudd government. There was no criticism of this move by the Stanhope government or the Stanhope government Minister for Health, Ms Gallagher, even though the Rudd government ended up putting less money into dentistry programs than was previously provided by the Howard government. There is much to be done to make sure that the policy frameworks that this government talks about actually provide good policy for our older Canberrans.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.15): Before I make my contribution on this matter of public importance, I want to remark on the fact that we are now debating matters of public importance on Wednesdays and that that erodes private members business. Although MPIs are put by private members, we must remember that they are not motions and they do not have resolutions. I believe that their contribution to that important, precious thing we have—private members day—is questionable. I hope that after the election—I do not suppose that much will happen in an election year—the committee for admin and procedures will make a ruling, by a gentlemen’s or gentlepersons’ agreement, reflected in standing orders, that we revert to the earlier regime.

It is interesting that we are talking about young people and seniors today. It is a week for young people; it is also a week for our senior citizens. Perhaps surprisingly to some people, the two groups have a lot of issues in common and share a lot of concerns. They are both vulnerable groups in our community. One major difference is that senior citizens have a vote, but they are both affected by public transport issues, planning issues and other issues that it would be nice to see them getting together a little more on.

In my office, probably like other members, I am frequently contacted by elderly constituents. They do know how to use their MLAs. That is something that is learned in a lifetime of living in the ACT. We know that the ACT population is an informed group, a group that knows its rights and is not short of people who know how to call for them.

Let me go to the kinds of things that we have heard about in the last year or so. This is just a slice of them. For instance, there are issues about footpaths in the suburbs where they live. Some suburbs are very well served by footpaths, Yarralumla being one; but others, apparently Red Hill, are not. Both these suburbs have a high proportion of elderly people. There are concerns about the lack of footpaths for people with walkers, people who are able to walk without walkers, people in wheelchairs and so on. They have to be on the road. It is unsafe; it limits their mobility. A lot of elderly people will choose not to go out if they have to go on the road.

This must be particularly a problem in Gungahlin. As yet, it does not have a high number of elderly people, but when it does they are going to be extremely challenged, because of the narrow roads and lack of footpaths. We will probably have to instigate a wheelchair lane or a scooter lane shared with bicycles. I am not sure quite how we are going to deal with that one. I do not think our planners were full of foresight in that case.

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