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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (16 October) . . Page.. 2935..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

jointly with the government. I have asked the department to bring forward a revised market offer looking at not only Currong Apartments themselves but the surrounding land. Of course, Mr Speaker, we are not letting these apartments sit empty while the negotiations continue—they are being used for student accommodation. We try not to let any property sit empty.

Our turnaround times on vacancies have improved markedly, and we have introduced a new program, the Housing Now initiative. Under this program, properties that are in areas known to be hard to let—that is, they are offered to people on the waiting list who reject them—are put on display for anyone on the waiting list to examine. During the pilot project, seven vacant properties were shown, and six were taken up. Since then, a further 36 vacant properties in the hard-to-let-category have been allocated. Twelve of these properties had been previously refused three or more times by applicants. The government will continue to adopt innovative approaches to ensure that our housing stock is fully utilised.

The management of the public housing portfolio in the ACT is guided by the public housing asset management strategy 2005-08. Work has commenced on the public housing asset management strategy beyond 2008, and I expect that it will provide an indication of the priorities that need to be addressed for multi-unit properties. I have asked my department to prepare a strategy for my consideration. I look forward to providing further information to the Assembly in due course.

At this point, Mr Speaker, in answer to the question from Ms Porter, I would like to also acknowledge the work of officers of my department. The multi-unit real estate market is a difficult one to move within, and I think they do a sterling job. They have got a great outcome at Lyons. They have, through difficult circumstance, come up with, I think, a good outcome for Fraser Court and are working particularly well around Currong Apartments. I would like to single out, of course, Martin Hehir, Maureen Sheehan, David Collett and Kim Fischer for their work in bringing forward some innovative ideas in providing accommodation to those in the ACT who really need it.

ActewAGL—land acquisition

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, yesterday you announced that the ACT government has offered ActewAGL an option for the direct sale of land in Hume for the development of a gas-fired power station and secure data centre. Chief Minister, how does this announcement reflect the ACT government's commitment to maintaining a stable, reliable electrical network in the ACT?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Thank you, Mr Gentleman. This is a very important issue. It is potentially a project of enormous significance to the ACT. It is still at the stage of scoping up and investigation—decisions have not been made—but ActewAGL, with a number of partners, is pursuing again the prospect of the construction and operation of a gas-fired power station for the Australian Capital Territory, and that would be significant.

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