Page 171 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2012

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The ACT government does have a mind to supporting those on low incomes and the requirement for them to have reduced costs over time to further support them and their families in their accommodation. The ACT government is also responding to the effects of rising energy costs for public housing tenants. We have increased our energy concessions significantly in the last budget. Ms Bresnan has made mention of disadvantaged groups, tenants that are on low incomes across Canberra households. Disadvantaged groups on low incomes comprise a large proportion of the tenancy of Housing ACT and through social housing, our community housing sector, as well.

Rest assured that we are continuing an ongoing program of improving our properties either through the sale of low energy rating properties or the acquisition of high energy rating properties. We are also undertaking a range of energy efficient improvements to existing ACT public properties. Just recently, in the last budget, we expanded our ongoing energy efficiency program from $2 million to $4 million per annum in this financial year. The government will reach $10 million in expenditure on energy efficiency improvements early in the new year.

It is worth noting on concessions that for a mother and father with two children on an income of $45,000 a year, in terms of their combined eligibility for a range of concessions, about 28 per cent or 29 per cent of their income is provided by this government in concessions and assistance with their household bills. We have offered this support in a sensible and responsible way and in a way that the government can afford, without the need for this uncosted and unsustainable bill. This government, as noted by the Attorney-General, will not be supporting the bill.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.26 to 2 pm.

Questions without notice

Australia Day—protest

MR SESELJA: My question is to the minister for Indigenous affairs. Yesterday you refused to answer a number of questions about your office’s involvement in the protest at the Lobby Restaurant on Australia Day, and in fact continually referred to a scripted statement relating to events surrounding Australia Day. Yesterday you said that your office received a telephone call from the Prime Minister’s office. Minister, when did you learn that the Prime Minister’s office was trying to contact you?

DR BOURKE: As I said yesterday, and I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question, my office was contacted on that Thursday, Australia Day, seeking a media contact, and was referred on to Ms Sattler. My awareness of that did not happen until the day after.

I am particularly interested in the fascination of the Canberra Liberals in this matter about the tent embassy. And I can only draw two conclusions about that. One is that they are interested in the tent embassy, and I would be curious as to what their policy

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