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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 44..

MS GALLAGHER: Again, I think I covered this in my statement this morning. I said I read the entire report within days of it being tabled. I cannot give you the specific date I took it home. I think I went to Melbourne the day after it was tabled and I took it and read it on the plane. I did a media interview on one recommendation in the back seat of a taxi in Melbourne. I was reading it over the few days after it was tabled. I cannot remember the second part of your question, but I think I have answered it.

Mrs Dunne: Did you read all of the report or just the recommendations?

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, I did read all of the report. As I have said on a number of occasions today, both to the media and in this place, the area where I should have done better was that I should have picked up on it earlier.

Student accommodation

MS DUNDAS: My question is to the Chief Minister. On 18 November last year he stated that the ACT government was currently working with a full range of stakeholders in relation to the issue of student accommodation and that the ACT Council of Education Export had met and identified the issues of ensuring that Canberra remained as attractive a destination for students as possible. Will the Chief Minister inform the Assembly of the outcome of his work with stakeholders and what the government is planning to do to address the chronic shortage of student accommodation in the territory?

MR STANHOPE: I do have some information in relation to this issue, but I think it would be more useful to ask the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Mr Wood, to respond to the detailed question. In recent times he has been doing some significant work on behalf of the government in relation to student accommodation and he can give a much fuller response than I am currently able to.

MR WOOD: One of the significant stakeholders is ACT Housing and the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. I have had conversations about this. I have made the point on a number of occasions that the ANU in particular has been somewhat responsible for the crisis because it has sold off its student accommodation and put it to other purposes over the years. At the same time, we acknowledge the benefit that can be received. It is part of our policy, we acknowledge, to seek to attract students into Canberra. So there is some responsibility there. It is a joint responsibility. We have been looking at the issues. We provide some houses to post-graduate students. We are happy to do that. In many circumstances those are houses we intend to sell in due course. They are not there as a permanent accommodation source.

Following further discussions, I can indicate that we will go back to the university and to one of our community housing providers, as ACT Housing is prepared to offer up Currong for the remainder of this year for students. Already quite a number of tenants have left Currong pending its closure. It is a good scheme. There is mutual benefit here. For obvious reasons we are keen to see the building utilised in this period rather than see it become more and more empty. So, we will offer that up as an emergency measure this year for university students.

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