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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4351..

Affordable Housing Taskforce-final report

Paper and statement by minister

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

ACT Affordable Housing Taskforce-Final Report-"Strategies for Action"-Progress report, dated August 2004.

I ask leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MR WOOD: Today it is my great pleasure to table a report outlining government progress in implementing the recommendation of Strategies for action, the final report of the ACT Affordable Housing Taskforce. The ACT government has a commitment to understand and address need and disadvantage within our community while at the same time providing a framework for sustainable economic growth, including job growth. We are well aware of the issue of disparity between high and low-income Australians. This has been put starkly by Hugh Mackay, who said:

We are in danger of swapping our long-held faith in egalitarianism for a tediously conventional three-class structure of social stratification based on nothing but money. While those at the top of the heap bray about economic growth and prosperity for all, the yawning gap between top and bottom continues to widen. Indeed, the growing disparity between our high- and low-income earners puts us among the least equitable countries in the OECD.

The Canberra plan, which includes the spatial plan, economic white paper and social plan, is the centrepiece of the government's efforts to articulate and communicate this direction. The need for affordable housing as part of a housing system that delivers choice to the community is a feature throughout these documents, and indeed "housing a future Canberra" is a key outcome of the social plan.

Housing is critically important for our overall economic and social wellbeing. It provides the basic foundation on which individuals and families build stable, healthy and productive lives. Safe, appropriate and affordable housing helps to provide dignity and the opportunity to develop a sense of belonging to a community. Without appropriate and affordable housing, communities are not sustainable. Most importantly, the government recognise that public housing has been and is a "cornerstone of the capital"-indeed a cornerstone of our community. It provides the basic building block on which Canberrans can reach their potential, make a contribution and share the benefits of our community.

Inadequate affordable housing has far-reaching economic and social impacts for both the individual households affected and the ACT community as a whole. Individual wellbeing is adversely affected, as is the economic performance and wellbeing of the community. Our capacity to address social needs is reduced. People on low incomes often struggle to access and stay in affordable housing either because their incomes are low or housing is

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