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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2135..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

residence in Australia. This means they are eligible neither for public housing rebates nor, I understand, for the new bond loans.

I am sure that the minister is aware-we have discussed it-of the serious situation refugee families can find themselves in. I know of one family that has to live with four children on $150 a week, once they have paid rent. Well over 80 per cent of their income is going into rent. Minister, is there a good reason why the public rental housing assistance program cannot by changed to allow assistance to people living here on this cruel category of visa?

MR WOOD

: I am not sure I can say there is a good reason. There is a reason. I will confirm this, but it is my understanding that the agreements we sign with the Commonwealth require this. I will check that point just to make sure about it. I recognise that there is a problem there. The issue is also very much one for the Commonwealth, who should accept a role in this regard.

There have been a number of cases where we have arranged a head lease with a community organisation, and we have provided a house in that way as a way around the issue. There is certainly a problem for housing in Canberra in that quite a number of refugees of this status come to the territory and it is just another pressure on public housing.

MS TUCKER

: Can you tell the Assembly whether you are prepared to look at further ways you can assist people in this situation, who are having such difficulty in accessing housing that is affordable-either further CORHAP schemes or other forms of housing assistance?

MR WOOD

: It is a matter that arises from time to time, and on each occasion we work through the issue as best we can. There have been occasions when we have said, "Sorry, we can't help."We are now in the stages of renegotiating a new Commonwealth-state housing agreement. To the extent that that may be part of the factor, we will have a look at it, and I will report to you on other measures that may have been considered.

Burglary

MS MacDONALD

: My question is to the minister for police, Mr Wood. Minister, in Australian society property offences, such as burglary, cause much distress and heartbreak, as well as financial hardship. Can you tell me what is being done in the ACT to lessen these risks for residents?

MR WOOD

: I think that there has not been quite enough publicity given to statements by the police in recent days about the success of Operation Halite. On their figures, fairly reasonably estimated, $3.1 million in burglary losses have been saved as Operation Halite has made inroads into property and drug supply offences. That program began in October 2002 under Mr Quinlan.

Since that time, investigators have succeeded in helping to reduce burglaries from 142-far too high-to 97 each week, a 32 per cent drop and necessarily a big saving to the community and insurers. The average cost of a residential burglary is $2,000 a


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