Page 827 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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MS BERRY: Thank you for that supplementary question. It is really important that we make sure that as we build new homes in the ACT for public housing tenants they are accessible and meet the needs of individual tenants, that they replace older, unsustainable and unsuitable homes with more sustainable, affordable homes that are class C adaptable and meet the needs of our tenants. It is an important part of the Housing ACT growth and renewal program: 1,000 new homes in the next four years to replace older, unsustainable homes, and it will make a difference to Housing ACT tenants who live in those homes. Making adjustments to existing properties, including handrails, ramps and bathroom facilities is also an important part of the ACT government’s maintenance program.

Housing ACT—renewal program

MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Housing and Suburban Development. Minister, regarding the public housing growth and renewal program tenant relocation saga, the ACT Council of Social Service issued a media release on Monday stating that you and Minister Vassarotti had agreed to review the process by which highly vulnerable public housing tenants can receive a discretion that allows them to remain in their homes. In addition, ACTCOSS said:

We note that in the meeting on Friday the Ministers directed Housing ACT to review the arrangements for granting discretion.

In the Canberra Times last Tuesday, you denied that any such review has been agreed to. Minister, clearly one of these statements is incorrect and, surely, someone is lying. Can you please tell us exactly what is the truth on this matter?

MS BERRY: I thank Ms Lawder for the question. Yes, there was a meeting between me, Ms Vassarotti, the Director General, Deputy Director General and two chiefs of staff of the offices with ACTCOSS, including Emma Campbell and the ACTCOSS board chair, Jeremy Halcrow on Friday, 1 April, which was the Friday just past. We had assurances from ACTCOSS at the meeting that it supports the ACT government’s policy direction and the growth and renewal program.

We raised concerns around the morning’s media release from ACTCOSS that it could cause—and, unfortunately, has caused—uncertainty and some confusion for affected tenants. We wanted to clarify that at that meeting we did not agree to a review of the implementation of the growth and renewal program. We did, however, agree that Housing ACT would continue to refine and better articulate processes for tenants seeking exemptions from inclusion in a program, and for the provision of on-going relocation support so that these processes can be better understood by tenants.

MS LAWDER: Minister, how could ACTCOSS have possibly formed the clear and unambiguous view conveyed in their media release?

MS BERRY: I suspect that that would be a question for Ms Lawder to ask ACTCOSS.

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