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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2450..


MR WOOD: I am going to win them over; that is what I am going to do. I will not concede that it is a good Liberal-voting suburb. By the way, Mr Cornwell, it is a shopping centre that I happen to visit fairly often. I find it a convenient and good spot to stop for a variety of purposes, so I know it fairly well. What am I going to do? Next year when we are preparing the budget and are looking at the capital works program, I will look at the list of shopping centres to be refurbished, take advice from officers and make a decision on which shopping centres should get the nod.

ACT Housing-fire safety

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I would like to ask a question of Mr Wood, the best Minister for Urban Services in the last seven years. Minister, what is the government doing to upgrade the fire safety standards in ACT Housing's large flat complexes?

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, this question is pretty relevant today, bearing in mind that there was a fire in a boarding house establishment in Brisbane in the last day or so, with tragic consequences. From time to time, as other housing ministers would have had drawn to their attention-we do get all these things drawn to our attention, Mr Cornwell-there have been fires in some of our complexes, too, and action has been taken over a period.

The problem for us is that the majority of the large flat complexes were built before 1962, at a time when buildings were exempt from any form of regulatory control, although the policy of the time was that they should comply with the standards of the time. The requirements of the current version of the building code of Australia are much more stringent, properly so, in the areas of fire safety than those standards of 40 years ago.

There is no obligation under the Building Act for owners, either government or private, to upgrade their properties to comply with the building code as it has been amended over time. Despite that, ACT Housing has carried out fire safety audits on most of the large multiunit sites and is developing an action plan for upgrading work to allow for certification of the properties as meeting recognised contemporary standards of fire safety. To do so, as I announced earlier, we will be spending $16 million over three years on this program, a very substantial commitment to protect our tenants and one that should have been receiving money over a much longer period. I am also the best housing minister, Mr Hargreaves.

Ms Dunne: And modest, too.

MR WOOD: And modest.

Mr Cornwell: Never mind the smokescreen; what about the smoke detectors?

MR WOOD: I will come to that, too, Mr Cornwell. This $16 million expenditure will be undertaken in the context of what I have established as an integrated asset management strategy for the entire portfolio. The sorts of things that will happen involve improved warning systems, emergency exit signage and lighting, fire rating of doors-one of the first things done was the replacing of doors with fireproof doors-the replacement of switchboards and wiring, and improvements to hydrants and hose reels. The works,


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