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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 25 February 2010) . . Page.. 744 ..

significant expense to the taxpayer after a delay of two years is quite reasonable and appropriate. It is, of course, a story that has something of a vexed and controversial history. I think one of the hardest things a landlord ever has to do is to be involved in the eviction of people from any accommodation. The fact that in this instance the eviction involved squatters perhaps at one level exacerbated the difficulties which staff, organisations and landlords faced.

This is and always was, I think, difficult, particularly for those who were occupying the house at the time—people that did not have tenure, people that were squatting. Their eviction, of course, did generate significant emotions and controversy within the community. It was not an easy thing. As I say, the history of all staff within our housing employ—and indeed I think it would be the experience of all landlords—is that there is nothing more distressing than forcibly requiring the removal of somebody from a place that they live in. As I say, that distress and difficulty was not lessened—in fact, I think it may have been exacerbated—in the situation we faced of evicting squatters.

That was done for a whole range of reasons, of course, that every landlord would face in relation to an appropriate response, particularly when the property in which the squatting was occurring was public property—property which is vested in the people of the ACT—with people occupying it without rental and without authority. What is a government to do? A government must respect the ownership of that property and the fact that it is public property—property that belongs, at the end of the day, to all the people of the ACT.

Ms Hunter: Mr Speaker—

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, on a point of order. Stop the clock.

Ms Hunter: Mr Speaker, I would just direct the Chief Minister that my question was about the cost of providing security for the cottage over this period.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you. Chief Minister, you have set the context.

MR STANHOPE: Yes, I will take the question on notice.

MS HUNTER: Supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Hunter.

MS HUNTER: What percentage of the $150,000 price tag for renovations for the cottage relate to damage due to vandalism?

MR STANHOPE: I will take the question on notice, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary?

MS LE COUTEUR: How will the government ensure that the site is secure during renovations, so that vandalism does not happen?

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