Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 4414..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
Members will be pleased to note that the stock of community housing in the ACT has also increased by 17.5 per cent over the 12 months from June 2004 to June 2005 and now stands at around 500 properties. When looking at total property numbers, it is worth noting that when the previous Liberal government was elected the ACT had around 12,500 properties, and over the term of that government the stock was progressively sold off-often with very little return for the social housing system overall.
The key issue in this debate is not that some ageing multiunit complexes need major restructure and refurbishment. The key issue is how such work is undertaken and what return is achieved for the social housing system. The previous government, for example, sold off 262 properties in Lachlan and McPherson courts and demolished 263 properties at Burnie Court. These decisions were not in themselves objectionable. What was objectionable was the paltry return to the housing system that the Liberal government achieved from these sales.
The Stanhope government has made it clear that we will not go down that path. We will not engage in fire sales of public housing properties. We will seek the maximum possible return for the social housing system from any joint venture redevelopments. This is how we have approached the Fraser, Burnie and Currong redevelopments and how we will approach future redevelopments.
The government is committed to strengthen social housing services. In the 2005-06 budget we allocated $117.7 million towards social housing services-an increase of over six per cent on total funding provided in 2004-05. The government also remains focused on establishing and sustaining public housing tenancies for those most in need. In 2003-04 the ACT was the second best performing of all jurisdictions in allocating new tenants according to the severity of their need. The ACT allocated 86.2 per cent of tenants in this way, bettered only by Tasmania with 89.7 per cent. By contrast, the national average for priority allocations in 2003-04 was just 36.3 per cent.
In conclusion, the public and community housing system is performing well in difficult circumstances. There is obviously more work to be done, but I am encouraged by the progress made in recent times.
MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Treasurer. In the 2003-04 budget, the government's finance statistics show that the forecast net operating balance, which is the end result of all of the government's revenue and spending activities, for 2005-06 was estimated to be minus $19 million. One year later, in 2004-05, the forecast net operating balance for the same year, that is, for 2005-06, deteriorated to minus $73 million. Now the budget for 2005-06 shows a collapse in the outcome to minus $356 million.
In light of the massive blow-out in the deficit, from $19 million to $356 million, over just three revisions and forecast GFS deficits averaging $265 million over the next three years, how can you credibly claim that "the budget will return to surplus over the next three years"?