Page 2647 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 July 2008

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will provide direct advice to the ACT government, aimed at improving the lives of Indigenous Canberrans. Indigenous people have been without a voice since the Howard government abolished ATSIC. In the ACT they will again have a voice expressed through their democratically elected body.

When we were talking with those people today—Mr Gentleman and Ms MacDonald were there as well and were able to congratulate them as well—we shared with them their joy at being elected, their sense of this great adventure that they are now embarking on and their sense of the privilege of being elected by your peers. I am sure that all of us in this place know how that feels and what an honour it was but also, in some ways, what a challenge it is when you first get elected, looking forward to what the future holds for you. I would like to congratulate, once again, every one that was involved—all the candidates, all those who were elected, all those who worked so hard to achieve this event. It is a momentous event for the ACT.

Economy—standard of living

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.10): I want to highlight an ongoing issue that I have talked about here on many occasions, and that is the impact on the standard of living of those in the community. I was interested to see a report that was published in the Australian today that presented the facts from Newspoll, which showed that the percentage of Australians who believed that their standard of living will get worse has more than doubled from 18 to 43 per cent, representing the biggest jump in the survey’s history, and the percentage of Australians who believe that their standard of living will improve has dropped to just 13 per cent, which is the lowest confidence level since the early nineties.

Certainly the economic situation in this country has deteriorated quite dramatically in the past six months and, again, brings home to roost the issue of taxation. In this message sent to me they note that the Prime Minister is declaring that he and his government “have done as much as we physically can to provide additional help to the family budget”. That was on 22 May. That reads to me as throwing their arms in the air a bit and saying, “You will just have to cop it as it is.”

I am aware of course that the tax system has delivered some savings this week and they will be welcome in households. But the overall impact on people’s financial positions with petrol going up, I think in the order of 30 odd per cent, in the last six months means that the average Australian household has, in fact, gone backwards in the past six months.

The government federally tells us that there is not much they can do about it in relation to fuel. The Liberal and National parties have talked about an arbitrary reduction of 5c and, in some interviews, 10c. Of course the big fear on that is that overnight that discount could be very quickly eaten up by increases in the fuel prices. Obviously, any lasting impact would have to come in terms of the rate of excise or GST or the exclusion of one or the other potentially. Ideally, on a percentage basis, that modification could take place so that the benefit increases if the price of fuel goes up along the way.

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