Page 489 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 19 February 2020

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Canberrans know that this government will always deliver better outcomes for working people, and that is what we will continue to do.

Seniors card—eligibility

MS LAWDER: My question is to the minister for seniors. Minister, the government has had more positions than an AFL team on eligibility for the seniors card. Why are you changing the eligibility yet again this year to allow 60-year-olds and older to get a seniors card, but only after July, just in time for the election?

MR RAMSAY: I thank Ms Lawder for her question. We are very pleased to be changing the age of eligibility for the seniors card. As I have made clear in this chamber and in public before, there were a number of circumstances that led to the decision that the age for eligibility would increase. That was in line with other jurisdictions, with New South Wales and with the commonwealth.

What we have done is to bring that back. That is an important matter because seniors cards around Australia are largely recognised across jurisdictions. We wanted to ensure that local senior Canberrans know the value that this government places, which is a very high value, on our senior Canberrans, and to make sure that they know that they have the opportunity to fully participate.

We also thank COTA for the work they do. We thank the businesses that contribute. We believed that it was appropriate, as we worked through the changes that would take place and, as is the case with a number of matters of a financial nature, that it would take place at the beginning of the financial year. That is a very common thing in relation to eligibility and financial changes. In fact the changes that were taking place for the age of eligibility to increase, under both the former policy and that of other jurisdictions, regularly take place on 1 July each year as well.

MS LAWDER: Minister, why will you not grant seniors card eligibility now to anyone currently 60 or over who will become eligible on 1 July, back to where it used to be before your more recent change?

MR RAMSAY: I refer to my previous answer on that very point. It is commonplace with changes to eligibility, in relation to 1 July, that that is the case, as it was the case when the matters were increasing. We believe that this will help around 8,500 Canberrans. We believe that that is a very important step. Again I place on record my thanks, my appreciation, to COTA for their work. We believe that it is important to be able to work alongside COTA and alongside businesses, so that things can occur for people.

MRS KIKKERT: Minister, are you going to apologise to all those seniors who have been caught out and have missed out in your saga of eligibility data bingo?

MR RAMSAY: What we have heard from the opposition again today is that apologies are now becoming a political tool. That is deeply disappointing. What we will be doing on this side of the chamber is not playing politics with cheap apologies.

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