Page 2531 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 9 August 2016

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between 60 and 65 being completely cut out from accessing the seniors card. Instead of considering a means test to determine who could be eligible, the government decided to cut this altogether without any consideration for those it will impact. This card provides seniors with a wide variety of discounts, including allowing them to access concessional fares on ACTION buses. Obviously the Barr government has deemed this not important and feels that this age group can manage on their own.

Almost 3,000 households who receive the uncapped 50 per cent rebate on their rates will also have this discount frozen to reduce costs, and the water and sewerage concessions and the energy and utility concession will all be rolled into one, costing retirees who own their own homes an extra $200. This is clearly yet another opportunity for the government to use our seniors as a revenue source because it cannot manage a budget.

The bulky waste collection service that has been provided to seniors will cease to be provided by the government in mid-2017. This service provides a booked waste collection service for seniors to assist them in removing larger waste items from their properties. It is especially important for those seniors who are less mobile, by allowing them to remain in their own homes for longer. It is a service that is valued by many seniors in the community, but clearly not by this government.

These changes do not even take into consideration the increases in fees and charges that will impact the Canberra community as a whole but particularly those who can least afford it, like our seniors. The elderly will be impacted by the cost of rates, registering and driving a vehicle, and the annual ambulance levy, which are all going up to pay for a tram that this city does not need and does not want. Who is footing the bill, you may ask? It is those who can least afford it; those who struggle to make ends meet; those like our seniors who are some of the most vulnerable in the community.

Independent retirees are also struggling in the ACT. In the older, inner Canberra suburbs where transport is more efficient and health services are more accessible, house costs are high and rates are tripling. Living in the ACT is becoming less and less affordable, and many seniors are choosing to retire elsewhere because of this. As both a community and government we should be recognising the important contributions seniors make to the ACT economy and social community. We should be encouraging them to remain active and engaged residents and ensuring that Canberra becomes a city that welcomes the senior community and provides the best possible future for those entering retirement or aged care.

The government has continued to poorly manage issues relating to seniors over the years and has failed to properly engage and consult with the community on numerous occasions. Take, for example, the changes to concessions. The changes to the ACT concessions program took almost a year, with pensioners left in limbo not knowing which concessions might be cut and how they might make ends meet. The so-called public consultation that took place made the community feel like they were not being heard in the decision-making process.

Mr Barr took less than three days to consider the community feedback from the discussion paper before signalling to the media where cuts would occur, and these

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