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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 1284..

MR WOOD (continuing):

anybody else because when I came to Canberra I found myself living over the road-not from Betty Searle House but what was then a disability house-and I know that area quite well.

The house, as you explained at the launch, will accommodate up to eight women and has spare room for overnight guests, so it is not confining people without access to their families. It is very important to maintain links with family members. The building has been named in honour of Betty Searle, a quite prominent Canberran.

A significant factor of the opening is that it represents another milestone in the addressing of elder abuse in the community. The Stanhope government has been very proactive in implementing its response to elder abuse. Coincidentally, I was the chair of the Assembly committee that looked at this issue several years ago. Were you a part of that committee, Mr Cornwell? No, you were not. We provided a report and the response to that report was brought down by the Stanhope government. Mr Stanhope, in announcing his response, saw to it that over $400,000 would be allocated over four years to implement systems and services to protect vulnerable older Canberrans.

The women coming into this place generally have low support needs but may need assistance and information to re-establish themselves. Havelock Housing, a well-known body in this town, and another well-known body, Toora Women, have been jointly appointed as tenancy and service providers. They will do the management and assist the women coming into the place with services best able to meet their needs. The aim of the program is long-term affordable, safe, secure housing for older women. Given the work that has gone into it and the calibre of the people running it, I know that it is going to be very successful.

Bushfires-destruction of fences

MR CORNWELL: My question is to the Minister for Environment, Mr Stanhope. Minister, members of the opposition have received a copy of a letter sent by the executive director of Environment ACT on 19 March 2004 to ACT rural lessees about the repair of fences separating their property from government managed land-fences that were damaged or destroyed in the January 2003 bushfires.

Rural lessees are dissatisfied with this offer because (1) it has taken so long, (2) it refers to costs "being apportioned"between the government and the lessees-but it does not say on what basis-and (3) it makes even this unsatisfactory arrangement conditional on lessees accepting sole responsibility for the future maintenance of the fences, a responsibility formerly shared with your department.

In other jurisdictions, where farmers share boundaries with government land, such as in national parks, governments share these costs-as good neighbours generally do. Indeed, in New South Wales, Parks and Wildlife provided materials for the repair, and the Premier's department funded labour from disaster relief. By April of last year, landholders in New South Wales were in a position to repair fences. ACT lessees are still waiting-14 months after the fires.

Given that the lessees did not burn the fences in the first place, why is your government making such a niggardly offer to rural lessees, when your colleague Bob Carr simply got

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