Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 146 ..
The Productivity Commission report also has the figures of the payments per public housing dwelling in the country. In recent years we have seen big cuts to administrative costs for Housing ACT and we would not want to see further cuts to this. What has not been mentioned at all in this debate, or acknowledged, is that a proportion of the cost stated goes into other services which support people in public housing to stay in that house. This could include domestic violence assistance, mental health services or other health assistance and even employment services.
Public housing is an important part of providing housing to vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community. It is easy to target public housing, but that neglects to address what would happen to people if we did not provide public housing and the necessary support services. What would happen to people and families who, due to financial difficulties, have lost their home and have nowhere to go? What would happen to people escaping domestic violence? What would happen to someone who has finally received help for their mental illness for the first time but needs somewhere to live so they can have a job and have that stability in their life? As has been noted by experts in various fields of social policy over and over again, if we do not provide stability through housing, the other areas of a person’s life cannot be addressed.
Also in relation to the public housing stock, we do have old stock, so it does cost more if we are to keep that stock in decent repair. I would hope and expect that the stimulus funding from the federal government will impact on this. What I am concerned about is what will happen when this and other funding associated with the federal housing white paper runs out. When the changed arrangements under the federal, state and territory housing agreements hit us, they could have a major impact, particularly on those essential and crucial support services that help people maintain their housing.
The Productivity Commission, as we have also heard, also shows that the ACT ambulance response times are increasing and I note the points that both Mr Smyth and Mr Corbell have raised in relation to this. Over the years, confidence in our ambulance services has diminished and there are some suburbs now that the ambulance can take a very long time to get to. The public accounts committee will soon be looking into this matter via the Auditor-General’s report. This will be a very important inquiry and I look forward to that committee’s report and seeing what recommendations they make about how the service can be improved.
I have to address some of the points we have heard from the insightful Liberal Party today. I have to say it is a typical motion from them—lazy, lacking in any substance and always taking a dumbed-down approach. Rattling off a set of figures does not actually provide an analysis, although they might think it does. But I do have to say that what happens typically when we have this sort of motion coming up is that the Liberals attack, the Labor Party attack back and we do not actually have any debate on the substance—and that does not really achieve much for anyone.
Before I finish, I will have to go to Mr Hanson, the wonderful Mr Hanson, particularly his criticisms on committee attendance. This comes from a person who has been on one committee over the past year or so. That is quite a major effort from