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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 457..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

need to be done. It is not a matter for the government; it is not a matter for me as the minister. No reference is made to the minister or the government in making those decisions, as it should be. Contrary to the claims of those opposite, these are matters of operational independence, which the ESA has and which the government will defend when they make their decisions, consistent with their operational independence.

Housing congress

MS MacDONALD: My question is to Mr Hargreaves in his capacity as minister for housing. Minister, last week you gave a presentation at the Australian Financial Review housing congress in Melbourne. Can you please inform the Assembly about what happened at the congress?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. Last Thursday, 8 March, I had the pleasure of sharing the experiences and policy perspectives of the ACT at the housing congress with delegates from around Australia. The conference touched on many different aspects relating to housing, including affordability, our changing demographics, planning, land release reforms, access to home ownership and public housing. It was interesting to share with others the experiences and difficulties of administering a public housing program with limited funds in such a way that the most needy in our community have access to a roof over their head.

Solutions around Australia differ, but they all have to start from the same point: funds are limited, but even in economic boom times there are people in housing difficulty. People in housing difficulty are usually welfare recipients but still have the right to a dignified standard of life. They cannot obtain that in the private market. Governments, notwithstanding the lack of electoral incentive, should assist within the limits of available resources. We should be aiming at helping people stabilise their lives and accommodation so that they can eventually move on.

I spoke to the congress about a range of topics, including how the ACT government is working hard to create a person-centred housing assistance environment. The ACT government owns and manages a total of 11,549 properties. It is imperative that we make the best possible use of this valuable resource by ensuring that our housing stock is targeted to support those most in need and that we manage this asset effectively, including through the revitalisation of our older stock.

I informed the congress that, as part of our public housing asset management strategy, the ACT government has decided to go down the path of joint ventures, as they afford the best opportunity to maximise the benefits to the territory. If the government simply sells land on the open market, the purchaser takes all the risk. This affects how much they are prepared to pay for it. By entering into a joint venture arrangement, we are taking on some of the risk; so we expect to obtain a higher return.

We are currently in the process of finalising negotiations for the development of two prime sites in central Canberra by way of joint venture—one in Lyons and one in Kingston. With a combined total of over 360 dwellings, the complexes had the usual problems that arise when disadvantaged individuals or families are concentrated in one area. Attempts to sell one of the sites on the open market were unsuccessful.

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