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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 February 2016) . . Page.. 487 ..

of control childcare costs in the country. Is that where we want to be as a city and as a territory? Hopefully not.

We have also heard flagged through the Canberra Times potential changes to water, sewerage and electricity discounts for people on Centrelink payments and healthcare card holders. Changes that remove or reduce concessions currently received by Canberrans will place an even greater cost of living pressure on those households, those people who are in need of our support, not those that are currently undergoing a bit of a scare campaign of fear of what is going to happen to them because we are supposedly not going to hear any more from the Chief Minister until the budget. So those households will be living with that uncertainty until the budget and wondering what is going to happen to them in the future. I, for one, think that is very, very unfair for those already disadvantaged households.

The concessions program is important for looking after our most vulnerable Canberrans, and they are only one part of complex arrangements for supporting people in our community. In the ACT we are lucky. We have quite a high standard of living. But we have what is more like a two-tier or two-speed economy where we have a big chunk of people on pretty good incomes but we also have a deeply marginalised, low income sector in our community. These are the people who use the concessions program and who cannot absorb any more changes to their already stretched budget.

It is the cost of the tram that is going to affect these deeply marginalised people in our community, people who will not be able to afford to register their car or get their drivers licence. Unless they happen to live on Northbourne Avenue, which is highly unlikely given that we are moving all the public housing tenants out of there, they are not going to be able to get around to meet their friends. They are not going to be able to be part of any social inclusion agenda. They are going to be even more marginalised than they already are.

Chisholm, according to the Dropping off the edge report, has one of the highest levels of disadvantage in the ACT. Oaks Estate is another example. They do not even have bus services. These are the communities that are going to suffer even more than they are now. Between now and June those everyday Canberrans are going to be left in the dark about what changes are going to be made to the concessions program, how those changes will affect them and their families and their everyday life.

We are talking potentially about people for whom some of these are life-changing decisions. These are people who are already in housing stress. They are people who are already at risk of homelessness. Any changes will really impact on them. It is another example of the ACT government failing to communicate adequately with Canberrans.

The concessions program has to be fair, it has to be accessible, it has to be adequate. The concessions program has to be a mechanism that delivers the social inclusion and equality agenda. It should not be part of a scare campaign against our most disadvantaged citizens.

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