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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 September 2017) . . Page.. 3947 ..

This ban was never about animal welfare; never, ever. But it is now very clearly about mental health. I have serious concerns about the mental health of those in the greyhound community. They have been pushed to the edge through no fault of their own. I fear that when the final legislation on this is tabled, it will push some of them over the edge. I understand that the government will say that they are providing counselling support services through the greyhound transition task force. But let us get serious. Suggesting that someone in this community seek help from the greyhound transition task force is like suggesting to a traumatised bank staffer, a young bank teller who has had a gun pointed at his head, that they go and seek comfort from the bank robber. I can fully understand why those in the community who have been abused by this government do not want to seek comfort directly from their abuser.

There are other groups of people who feel that they have been left out completely by this government, including the victims of dog attacks, small businesses right across the territory and the increasing number of Canberrans who are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of living. If it is possible for you to stand up on your own two feet in this city, you can guarantee that the government will come looking for you, not to offer the hand of inclusion, not to offer assistance and support, but to get as much money from you as they possibly can. This government has overcommitted in many areas, and the money has to come from somewhere.

I know that much of this debate is about social inclusion. I get that. It is easy to say that this debate is not about taxes and charges. But I am here to tell you that when you feel the squeeze from all directions—when you feel the pinch from rising rates, rising land tax, rising electricity charges, rising rego fees, rising regulatory fees in every direction—and you are pushed into a financial space whereby you are struggling to breathe, you do not feel included. These people feel as though they have been left out; they do not feel included.

On a broader level, I always find it fascinating that we focus on all of these groups who we are not going to leave behind. If you are a heterosexual, employed white male over the age of 30, you are not really included in anything. I know that those on the other side would say that heterosexual, employed Anglo males have opportunities aplenty, so we do not need to look after them; they will be okay. Madam Assistant Speaker, let me tell you that 75 per cent of suicides in this country are men, and overwhelmingly they are men aged 30 to 54. When we commit to inclusion, we should not be picking favourites; we should commit to including everyone.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.27): I rise to speak today in support of Ms Cheyne’s motion, though I will obviously address some of the matters that have been raised by Mr Parton in his amendment. I think it is important to highlight how it is that the ACT government is ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness, particularly, as I will be addressing, in relation to our justice system and for our seniors. I do thank Ms Cheyne for bringing this important matter to the attention of the Assembly today.

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