Page 6022 - Week 18 - Thursday, 12 December 1991

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large number of employees back into the area. One little area, the corner opposite where the Seasons restaurant used to be, will be a cafe, milk bar, food outlet, as mentioned in the ad. That will essentially service the employment base of the new office accommodation in North Building.

Public Housing Tenants - Eviction Process

MR MOORE: My question of Mr Connolly as Minister for Housing follows an article about public housing in this morning's paper that appeared opposite the letters to the editor. Can you tell us, Minister, when you believe there will be an implementation of a socially just eviction process for public housing?

MR CONNOLLY: I believe that there is a socially just policy on eviction from public housing in the Territory. Unfortunately, a computer error some weeks ago, which has been referred to on a number of occasions in this place and which I have already applied the rod to my back for and apologised profusely for, resulted in letters being sent to people which indicated that eviction was a possibility. Appallingly, that would have been the final letter in the ordinary course of events. There is obviously a problem in the system, and I have asked people to look at the matter very closely and report to me fully on what the problem is.

I wrote to the ACT Council of Social Service on 11 November, setting out what our policy will be on eviction. Essentially, it is that it is absolutely and totally the last option. But, of course, it is necessary to retain eviction as a last option, because otherwise some public housing tenants may simply choose to flout the system and not make a contribution by way of rent, which would of course be unfair.

One issue that is of relevance to this is that the Commonwealth Government has recently indicated that it is now prepared to cooperate with the States on the long-awaited proposal to allow direct deductions from social security payments for public housing rent, which would mean that a lot of people would no longer fall into arrears. There would be an automatic direct deduction at source, only of course with the consent of the tenant. It is a move that has been long awaited.

At the moment notices for eviction, if and when they occur, are delivered in person or by certified mail. That was one of the issues called for in Mr Wensing's article in this morning's paper. I am satisfied that the procedures now in place are adequate, but there was clearly a breakdown in the procedures, and we will ensure that that will not happen again.

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