Page 2339 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Under section 11(1)(f) of the Financial Management Act, the territory is, indeed, required to provide a cost of living statement. We have done so in this budget. I am particularly pleased that we have been able to provide a more comprehensive cost of living statement. And so there is one element of Mr Hanson’s motion that I agree with. It did come as a bit of a surprise today that there was such upset from the Liberal Party in relation to this more comprehensive cost of living statement. Nevertheless, it provides a variety of information and a variety of different scenarios in terms of how different households in the territory are impacted by decisions taken in this budget.
But in the time that remains to me, I would just like to acknowledge a couple of other rebates that have been increased. We have increased the general rates rebate from $565 to $622. We have increased the secondary bursary scheme from $500 to $750 for eligible households, and we have also increased the energy concession by 10 per cent, taking the concession from $292.82 to $322.10, helping some of the most disadvantaged households, about 27,000 of them, across our city to meet some rising costs associated with energy. (Time expired.)
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (6.03): It is hard to know where to start with this motion. I think there are serious issues to be discussed about those who are doing it tough in this town, who are finding it hard to make ends meet, and then there is Mr Hanson’s motion. This is a motion that is clearly a political statement. It is a bit of a mishmash of things and, frankly, some of them are best described as inaccurate. I think that is unfortunate because it probably disguises some issues that warrant a serious discussion.
We have discussed these sorts of issues many times in this place. Certainly, with the areas that I have portfolio responsibility for, I am well aware of the fact that many Canberrans are finding it hard at times for a range of different reasons. We live in a city, of course, where the averages often hide that disadvantage. We live in a city that is, overall, quite wealthy. But it is important to recognise that within that, when one looks past the averages and statistics, there are individual cases that certainly tell stories about disadvantage and difficulty.
It is worth perusing some of the specific paragraphs in Mr Hanson’s motion. Again, this points to the way in which one can use statistics. If you take paragraph (1)(a), which is about the cost of living pressures, and then look at something like the latest state of the states report, that shows that the ACT has the equal highest wages growth in the country and the second lowest inflation, meaning that, in real terms, Canberrans have enjoyed the largest growth in real wages in the country.
We have the highest average weekly earnings and the highest average household earnings—$700 more than the national average. When you start to have a discussion about cost of living pressures and then look at a set of figures like that, it requires a much greater level of nuance than is brought forward in Mr Hanson’s motion today. That points to the fact that some Canberrans, frankly, probably do not even notice—and I am sure that is the case—whereas for others some of these pressures are very real and particular cost increases are quite challenging.