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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 November 2018) . . Page.. 4980 ..

If there are more things that we can do, or groups emerging within our community who have new or changing needs, we will continue to adapt and modify programs to reflect those changing circumstances. The usual process for that would be through the annual budget process, but from time to time we have had periodic reviews of concession programs—one recently conducted—and we will continue to closely monitor both changes in commonwealth concessions, and structures and programs, and the extent to which the ACT can utilise any new information, new eligibility or changes in requirements that occur at the commonwealth level.

Mr Coe: You are not trying to cost shift, are you, Andrew? You are not trying to cost shift?

MR BARR: To the extent that there would be new information available, Madam Assistant Speaker, particularly as it relates to eligibility for programs to address the issues that Ms Le Couteur raised—which Mr Coe would not be aware of because he was not here when she was delivering her speech prior to lunch—yes, we certainly are aware of the opportunities to share more data, and this is something that we intend to do where possible, subject to the relevant privacy protocols.

State and territory revenue offices are working more closely together in a number of areas, and there may be potential for information to be shared in that regard, but equally, between the states and territories and the commonwealth, I acknowledge that there is potential here. Of course, these things are subject to the vagaries of the COAG process and intergovernmental agreements. Right at the moment, between one COAG meeting and the next, there tends to be a change in commonwealth personnel. From the Prime Minister to the Treasurer to the social security minister, there has not been the same person in that role even over the course of this year. And undoubtedly all of those roles will change again, quite emphatically, in May of next year. That might provide the best opportunity to see some serious progress on these issues and perhaps also to address the range of issues that still lie at the commonwealth level, most particularly, as I have publicly called for, an increase in the Newstart allowance.

Having said all of that, I thank Ms Le Couteur for raising these issues today. We look forward to undertaking the work that is required by the action items within the motion and further progressing our efforts as a government and as a community to support the most vulnerable.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (3.42): The Canberra Liberals believe that the cost of living in our city is just too high. I note that Ms Le Couteur’s motion makes the point that Canberra is a high income community, and this may well be the fact by way of the mean or the median. But there are many people who are doing it tough. There are a significant number of people who are not on six-figure salaries and who continue to be left behind when this government determines its tax policies. We have seen the cost of living significantly increase in the past few years. Rates continue to increase, as well as electricity, gas, water and many other bills. Many Canberrans are not only struggling to pay their bills but also seeing a reduction in their quality of life due to a decrease in their disposable income.

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