Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 5 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1775..
MR COE (continuing):
government. The federal government very clearly stated that social housing was to receive the money—not just public housing but social housing, including community housing.
When the Chief Minister speaks in this debate shortly, I would ask him to clarify and inform the chamber and those listening what it was the minister took to the meeting last Friday. Last Friday, at the ministers meeting, did the minister say, "We want an exemption so that the ACT doesn't have to give money to community housing"? Did the minister do that? If he did do it, did the federal government comply? If so, I think that is absolutely disgraceful. If all the other states and territories recognise the importance of giving money to community housing, I find it disgraceful that the ACT would see fit to go and lobby for an exemption so that they do not have to give money to the likes of Community Housing Canberra and Havelock Housing and so that they can roll all the money into Housing ACT where the money would not be spent best. I ask the Chief Minister to clarify that as a matter of urgency.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (11.43): Mr Speaker, we sometimes forget the extent to which this city's history is bound up with the concept of social housing. We are the city we are because of the decisions taken around social housing at the time the commonwealth relocated federal government departments and agencies to the ACT.
While in most cities public housing has only ever been available for those who cannot afford to access appropriate housing without support, here in Canberra in those early decades public housing was the rule, rather than the exception. Of course, times have changed, but the legacy remains. We still, as a jurisdiction, have a larger proportion of public housing than any other in Australia.
These days we are acutely conscious of the need to target public housing at households, families and individuals most in need. But as a Labor government we understand deeply the importance of public housing and of other forms of social housing in meeting the needs of the diverse community. That is why, when we set about exploring initiatives to improve affordability, the action plan we came up with did not just look at helping home buyers. It did not just look at the private rental market and what could be done to boost supply and affordability there. It also looked at social housing, at how we managed and maintained our stocks of public housing, how we could better ensure that it met changing demand and how we could better support growth in community housing and other types of supported accommodation. Now, in the second phase, we are also exploring options, particularly for older Canberrans and those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
The federal government's historic $42 billion package to support jobs and invest in future long-term economic growth for the nation is unprecedented and will have lasting benefit for Australia as a whole and for the ACT as the heart of the nation. It is an initiative that will build the nation and create jobs. It will establish critical infrastructure within our community and provide a buffer to the economic uncertainty facing the ACT and Australia. It also reaffirms the importance of public housing and