Page 5160 - Week 12 - Thursday, 27 October 2011

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as a whole. To assist with this, two major community events were held last weekend to engage directly with members of the public and to remind and encourage them about the important role that they play in ensuring our community’s preparedness for the coming fire season.

The first of these was the ACT Fire Brigade CFU on Saturday program that was held at various ACT community fire unit locations across the ACT, reminding and encouraging residents in those CFU locations to act now and prepare their bushfire plans. The second was the ACT Rural Fire Service open day held at the Hume ACT RFS helibase on Sunday. The major message of that day again was community preparedness and education for the upcoming bushfire season. We estimate over 6,000 Canberrans attended on the day and of course in addition there were representatives of all ACT Rural Fire Service brigades who participated in a field day competition.

It is just fantastic to see this engagement from the Rural Fire Service volunteers and from the broader community as we continue to encourage Canberrans to remember that in the grass fires move fast, so they need to prepare, act and survive this bushfire season.

Economy—cost of living

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, under your government, Canberrans have seen the cost of living skyrocket with increases, including taxation per capita growing by 76 per cent, rates up by over 75 per cent, rents up by over 68 per cent and car parking costs up by 57 per cent. Recently released data from the ABS has shown that the cost of living in Canberra continues to increase, with rents up 5.8 per cent and water and sewerage up 12 per cent just in the last 12 months.

Minister your deputy is quoted in the Canberra Times today as saying this is all okay because “wages have increased by 44 per cent”. Chief Minister, doesn’t the Deputy Chief Minister’s own number on wages demonstrate that the cost of living in key areas under your government has risen far quicker than people’s wages?

MS GALLAGHER: I support the comments made by the deputy today. Any context of looking at CPI increases needs to be seen in the overall growth of the economy and growth in wages overall. Times have changed in 10 years. Prices have gone up and, for the large majority of Canberrans, wages have increased at a rate that is commensurate with those increases or above them. Any analysis of ABS data, including average weekly wages, will demonstrate that.

But the government acknowledges, and has for some time acknowledged, that there is a group in our community—and this is where we need to target our comments and target our assistance—that requires further assistance. I think we have done a very good job of targeting our assistance in relation to concessions—the very significant concessions that have been brought in under this government and, indeed, those concessions that you, Mr Smyth, voted against. But there is a group that sit above the concessions and who do not earn above the average income who may require further assistance and consideration about how government policy can assist them.

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