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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 805 ..

MADAM SPEAKER: Can you take a seat? Stop the clock. Members on this side, let us wait until the end of question time. It is the last question. If you want to chat, you can take yourselves outside. Minister, continue.

MR RAMSAY: Unfortunately, our modern culture of ageism can present further barriers to older people securing work, especially those people who may have had periods out of the work force and those whose skills may be out of date. For many of them the remaining job opportunities may well be in retail and hospitality. So we know that these proposed cuts to Sunday penalty rates create an additional real barrier to older Australians, including those in Canberra, earning a decent living.

MR STEEL: Noting that this is not the only recent commonwealth change to negatively affect older Australians—

Opposition members interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: The question?

MR STEEL: Can the minister outline what the ACT government has been doing to assist those Canberrans affected by changes to pension eligibility?

MADAM SPEAKER: Do you need to have the substantive part of that question re-read?

MR RAMSAY: No, thank you. I managed to hear it. On 1 January this year, the commonwealth government implemented changes to the age pension which changed some people’s eligibility to receive the age pension. As commonwealth eligibility determines access to local concession schemes, this is yet another blow to older Canberrans dealt by our commonwealth government.

However, the ACT government has been able to cushion the blow by providing a six-month grace period for the 660 affected Canberran households. Accordingly, we are continuing to provide this group of seniors with rebates for rates and the fire and emergency services levy through until July 2017. ACT seniors who hold the low income healthcare card can still qualify for a range of other ACT government concessions, including concessions on water, sewerage and energy utilities as well as access to the spectacle subsidy scheme. The ACT government has introduced free off-peak public transport for people with a healthcare card, allowing them to travel for free on ACTION buses between 9 and 4.30 and after 6pm on weekdays as well as all day on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. There is also free bus travel for seniors during Seniors Week, running from 18 to 26 March, with a wide range of important activities.

These are just some of the ways that the ACT government is valuing and assisting seniors in our community and building an age-friendly city.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, what have you personally been doing to ensure that the voices of older Canberrans are heard in government decision-making about the issues that affect them?

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