Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001
Parliamentary Record 27
Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 28 February 2001 of the other similar schemes in other jurisdictions, and in many cases - such as the seniors card - they were introduced much later than in other jurisdictions. The taxi voucher scheme was appreciated, yes, but there has been no additional allowance to that or the pensioner concession scheme since the introduction of the GST. They have remained static following the introduction of the CLPs mates goods and services tax. Is the minister intending to look at the issues of CPI and GST allowance in that regard, so that people can keep pace with the changing cost of living in the Northern Territory? Yes, its a great place to live. Thats why we are all here. Yes, its a good place for people to settle in their retirement, but it is an expensive jurisdiction in which to live. If the government is going to laud its virtues with regard to the scheme that it provides, perhaps it should ensure that scheme is kept up to date. The minister today has painted largely a picture of senior Territorians with health care needs, and there are undeniably plenty of those. As we age, our needs for certain facilities do increase. But we are not all necessarily going to become victims of poor health. I am sorry, by way of a small aside, that the minister did not see fit to mention the excellent palliative care services that are provided in the Northern Territory. Nor did he make any mention of the need for a hospice. This is something we have a bipartisan approach to. The member for Port Darwin and I have jointly presented a petition in the House today, and will probably go out and do a bit of media on it soon. We are both committed to it, and I believe that people on both sides of the House can see the need for the development of hospice facilities in the Northern Territory as our population, particularly our aged population, increases. I know the member for Port Darwin has a particular interest in this matter, borne of her background in health and, probably, personal experience. I certainly have personal experience, and I cant speak highly enough of the palliative care team who nursed my husband through his last months. They are excellent, they are professional, and they deserve ongoing support. And they deserve a home of their own. Having said that, we are not all victims of poor health. Like the minister, I too am a grandparent, but I dont regard myself as infirm, and I am not about to get into the rocking chair. I want an active and productive retirement I want to know that I can access further education, sport and recreation, and cultural activities. I want to be able to participate in the development of my community and live in a safe environment I may want to work again. I wish to know that any application I make will be judged on the basis of ability and not my wrinkles, and that if I encounter discrimination I will be able to seek redress because the jurisdiction in which I live will uphold my rights as a mature person. I dont want, as a older person, to be regarded by the government as a liability. I want to be seen as a community asset. This is not likely to happen if the portfolio for my age group is lumped in with the Northern Territory health department. Clients of health facilities are usually referred to as patients. And, if you will excuse the pun, I do not have much patience with that. The Labor Party believes the portfolio for mature-age persons is inappropriately placed within health. Like women and youth, we believe this very important and growing component of the Territory should be located somewhere else, such as within the office of the ChiefMinister. I dont denigrate the work done by the government in developing facilities and pohcy for seniors, but I suggest to you that it has stalled. The Office for Senior Territorians seems to be a bit like a shelf company, tucked away in a comer with no discernible exciting new plans for the future. If I am wrong, the minister can outline his vision for the next five years in the same way that ministers from other jurisdictions seem able to do. Of course, he will have to resist the temptation to get back on his favourite obsession, which is my colleague, the member for Wanguri, and rather than focusing on negatives, put forward some plans. Oh, yes, if the minister comes back and says, Well, where are the Labor Partys plans?, I can assure him that we will be providing them very soon. I believe that Territorians of all ages will like what we have to offer them. I believe they will see the Labor Party is focusing on the positives for our mature-age persons, rather than just the negatives. I believe it is something that any aspiring government and any established government should be doing on behalf of Territorians who are reaching their senior years. Ms CARTER (Port Darwin): Mr Deputy Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak on the ministers statement. One of the things we have noticed over the last few years in Darwin - 1 can certainly recognise it by wandering down the Mall - is the increasing number of people with grey hair in Darwin. And it has happened to many of us. I remember coming to Darwin from the Gold Coast as a young person 20- odd years ago. Darwin was then a place for young people. But that is changing now as our population ages. I was pleased to hear from the minister this morning the efforts that are being made by this government to address the needs of a growing, 7510
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