Page 59 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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the campaign would be introduced immediately. It is largely one-off and targeted to those in most need.

This bill achieves three main outcomes. First and foremost, the bill provides urgent assistance to the vulnerable in the community who have been severely affected by the deteriorating national and international economy and who are most in need of our help. Secondly, the bill provides, in a responsible and responsive manner, initiatives to stabilise the economy against the trickle-down impacts of the global financial crisis. And, finally, the bill provides for increased accountability and transparency of the Assembly.

Turning to the first objective, the stresses associated with the increased costs of living this year are affecting many individuals and families in the ACT, and will be particularly felt leading into the Christmas period. This bill provides for immediate action to help reduce pressure in these areas. We are providing $1 million of emergency relief via welfare and community groups to individuals and families to assist in meeting some of the increased costs of living. While we are now seeing fuel prices declining, other necessities like food and utilities continue to increase and this assistance will make a real difference for those Canberrans.

We are providing $2½ million of emergency relief to acknowledge the significant contribution made by the territory’s carers and volunteers. We will ensure that volunteers, carers, foster carers and kinship carers receive assistance in the form of petrol vouchers and bus tickets to alleviate increased transport costs to ensure the continuation of this important community work. And we are providing just over $2 million via direct grants to school parent groups in acknowledgement of the important roles which they play within the school communities. This will see a one-off grant of $15,000 per school to be spent on projects to improve each ACT public and non-government school. It also provides a one-off $1,500 grant to preschool parent associations. The funding will be rolled together into a $16½ thousand grant in cases where there is only one parent association.

As promised during the election campaign, we are providing $100,000 to the RSPCA to manage a spike in demand for a number of key services, primarily the provision of animal shelter, an animal welfare inspectorate role and wildlife services. There is no doubt that there is a link between the increasing financial household stress many are facing and the demand for animal welfare services.

I now turn to the second objective. The territory’s economy remains robust. We are not, however, immune from the impacts of the global financial crisis and the moderating Australian economy. We are undertaking responsible and responsive initiatives to help stabilise our economy against these global impacts.

The bill provides for the implementation of the first home owner boost scheme. The scheme, introduced in October 2008, provides an additional $7,000 to first homebuyers purchasing an established home and $14,000 to first homebuyers entering into a contract to purchase a newly constructed home before 2009. The introduction of the scheme, coupled with our important housing affordability framework, will boost our economy and provide an increase of first homeowners in the territory in the next six to 12 months.

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