Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3033..
MR WOOD: Mr Pratt, can I suggest to you that you go and read Hansard tomorrow when it's out and read again what I just said to you.
MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is also to Mr Wood. Minister, yesterday you announced that ACT Housing rents for tenants who pay full market rents would increase by 11.7 per cent, in line with the market price. Some people in the sector have told me that there are two main reasons why private rental rates have risen so much. The first is that, in Mr Quinlan's first budget, he raised a range of property taxes, including stamp duty. Secondly, the ACT government hasn't supplied sufficient land, thereby contributing to a shortage of rental housing.
Minister, if you really are the housing minister, what will you do to help those many tenants that are struggling to pay rent?
MR SPEAKER: Mr Wood, before you answer: Mr Hargreaves, can you carry out the conversation somewhere else?
MR WOOD: What will I do to help those struggling tenants? I'll tell you what: I think any private renter in this town-and that's the majority of rental people; probably most people own their own homes-would be very happy with a deal that says, "You don't have to pay more than 25 per cent of the income in rent."Any private renter would be satisfied with that.
I think Mr Stefaniak was the minister when that percentage rose from 221/2 per cent to 25 per cent. I know I was in opposition and I was opposition spokesman at the time. I mumbled a bit about it, but I didn't raise very much objection because I thought it was fairly reasonable.
That seems to me a pretty good deal. If your income takes that rent above that level, you go back to ACT Housing and say, "Look, I think I might now be eligible for a rebate."You won't have to pay more than 25 per cent of your household income in rent. That is one of the reasons why so many people are on the list to get into ACT public housing. That, Mr Stefaniak, I believe, is a fair and reasonable deal. I'm pretty sure-to repeat-that any private renter would be very happy with that.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Stefaniak, a supplementary?
MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have heard that some tenants have found out about their increase in rent through the media rather than being told individually. Firstly, would you comment on whether that's so? If it is so, why weren't they advised individually by letter rather than have to hear it through the media?
MR WOOD: That may be the case. Last year, we were very careful to see that letters went out before there was any public statement. This year, a different system was used and phone calls were made. Phone calls were made, not to every Housing tenant but to tenants who had a fairly significant increase. It was thought, "Hang on, these people are