Page 2987 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013

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When you examine what other options are available to senior Canberrans, there are a number: energy concessions for electricity and gas with a maximum combined utility rebate of $374.82; water rates attract a 68 per cent a quarter rebate; sewerage attracts the same; the ACT spectacle service provides one free pair of bifocal or trifocal glasses every 24 months; and there is a taxi subsidy scheme for seniors with a profound activity limitation. All these are provided to seniors on a pension but none is available to seniors who are supporting themselves in retirement. Quite oddly, while excluding self-funded retirees from accessing the taxi subsidy scheme, it is open to asylum seekers with mobility limitations.

Chief Minister and Treasurer, Canberra Liberals care about what is happening to seniors in this territory. My motion is a result of the many calls from and meetings I have had with individuals and clubs, like Probus, University of the Third Age and many others, who are still making quite a contribution to Canberra even in their retirement and simply want the government to understand the predicament they face through the actions of both the ACT and the federal governments.

As I have already indicated, a significant number of self-funded retirees—around 20,000—are ineligible for the aged pension or other allowances in the ACT simply because they have done the right thing all their lives—they have worked hard, paid their taxes and contributed to their own retirement plans. They now want to enjoy the fruits of their labours, only to have the Labor Party deny them that.

Nationals Seniors Australia in their 2013 submission to the ACT 2013-14 budget informed the ACT government that older people are not ageing in place within the ACT and are choosing to retire elsewhere. They have said the government needs to introduce measures to retain them, and I will briefly quote from their submission. The research and a national comparison appear to indicate that:

… older people are not ageing in place within the ACT and are choosing to retire elsewhere. Measures to retain older people within the population would therefore be of benefit to maintain the social capital that comes with a range of people across all age groups. This could be an area for consideration by the ACT Government.

I suggest, Mr Barr, this should be a priority consideration for the ACT government. We call on the ACT government to recognise that they have discriminated against a significant proportion of older Canberrans and it is time it stopped. We call on the government to recognise the difficulties that current cost of living pressures are causing older Canberrans. We call on the government to stop the tax reforms which are tripling rates for older Canberrans. And we call on the government to write to the Prime Minister to highlight the uncertainty caused by federal Labor policies to older Australians who choose to retire in Canberra.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (12.16): I thank Mr Doszpot for his motion because it is important that the Assembly continues to recognise the issues of ageing Canberrans. In some ways it has been a particularly good morning for that,

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