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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1712..


QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

Housing Trust - Dual Occupancies

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I direct a question to Mr Stefaniak in his capacity as Minister for Housing. I ask: Why is the Government forcing Housing Trust tenants to occupy dual occupancies to enable the construction of new four-bedroom homes in their backyards when there are already on the market any number of four-bedroom homes which would surely be suitable and which could be spot purchased by the Housing Trust?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. The question probably relates, as much as anything, to the current publicity given to a dual occupancy property in Curtin. Firstly, that particular matter, as with other dual occupancy developments undertaken by the ACT Housing Trust, has been the subject of various letters to the editor of the Canberra Times. ACT Housing has the same development rights and responsibilities as any private developer in the ACT. As required under the Territory Plan guidelines for dual occupancy developments, ACT Housing recently undertook preconsultation with nearby residents over a proposed dual occupancy. Residents raised concerns about problems of privacy and the possible removal of trees from the Curtin site.

Housing has a dual obligation to maximise the use of taxpayers' funds and to meet client needs through the effective use of the public housing portfolio. Dual occupancy development - certainly the one at Curtin - is a reasonable and responsible approach to the property management issue, taking into account such matters, particularly at Curtin, as client needs and site constraints. As the Housing Trust is the largest single landlord in the ACT, it has a very definite interest in maintaining urban amenity. Its clients are just as interested as everyone else in the community in ensuring that their accommodation meets all of their needs, including the quality of their living environment. Indeed, the housing department has been instrumental in developing a plan and consultation process, which I had the pleasure of launching recently, to take ACT Housing well into the twenty-first century.

MS FOLLETT: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I think we should note that the Minister has not even attempted to answer why it is that the Housing Trust is building new houses when surely, particularly in today's market, it would be far more economical to spot purchase. I ask, by way of supplementary question: Will the Minister guarantee that no-one will be asked to leave their home if they object to a dual occupancy on the property they currently rent from the Housing Trust? Can you give that guarantee to the Housing Trust tenants?

MR STEFANIAK: I do not know whether I can give a unilateral guarantee in relation to that. You would have to take it in relation to circumstances, I imagine. I do not think it would be proper for me to give a unilateral guarantee. Might I say, though, that the Housing Trust is very responsive to the needs of its clients, and is a good neighbour as well, and consults and attempts to place its clients in the best possible accommodation.


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