Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 April 2008) . . Page.. 1228 ..
about young people not having much association with older people. I think we are going to have that big gap in between, and there will be a need to work with both ends of the spectrum.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo––Leader of the Opposition) (4.35): I thank Mr Gentleman for bringing this matter forward today. There is no doubt that it is crucially important that governments develop comprehensive policies for older Canberrans. It is true that, with the challenges with having an ageing population, governments will need to find new ways of responding. Governments will need to be innovative in the way that they care for the elderly. I think it is also fair to say that, as the baby boomers age, with that large aged population, not only will we see significant challenges for government but also the political clout of the elderly will increase significantly, simply because of their numbers. So governments will not be able to ignore, if they are at the moment, the growing needs of a growing aged population.
It is worth looking in particular at a number of areas of government policy that currently impact upon the elderly, particularly taxes. It is fair to say that, for many Canberrans on high incomes, certain taxes do not impact on them as much as they do on low-income earners and on the elderly. We know that many of our elderly, particularly those who rely solely or primarily on the age pension, are low-income earners. They are living from week to week in terms of their income. This government has imposed a number of significant burdens on them. We have seen issues such as the utilities tax and the indexing of taxes and charges to wage price inflation as opposed to consumer price inflation. The elderly—those who rely on pensions—are seeing their relative incomes go down in relation to the taxes they are paying. We have seen a massive increase in rates.
Another issue that affects the elderly, particularly those in their 60s and 70s who are looking to downsize, is the impact of stamp duty and the significant rates of stamp duty payable. It is worth reflecting for a moment on what that actually does. Many Canberrans have lived in their houses for many years. The kids have grown up, they now have grandchildren and they are looking to move from a four-bedroom or a five-bedroom home on a quarter-acre block to a townhouse, a unit or some other appropriate form of accommodation. The significant amount of stamp duty that is imposed upon those groups cannot be underestimated. We know that a house at around the median value attracts about $20,000 in stamp duty. That is a significant burden for those who are looking to find more appropriate accommodation.
It is disappointing that we do not have a minister here to respond to this important issue. We did hear from Katy Gallagher a while ago about the difficulties in providing aged care accommodation. She lamented that problems in the ACT planning system were preventing the delivery of a number of these beds. It does cause Canberrans to reflect on what is going on inside the government, when the planning system is doing so badly that other ministers are lamenting that they are unable to deliver the services that they should be delivering for the community because the planning system is simply not up to scratch.
With respect to the issue of housing for older persons, in February this year we were informed that Housing ACT has just 1,217 older persons units for persons over the