Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3212 ..
In response to question on notice 724, which I asked in March this year, the government said that for the next three to four years, it will be selling $30 million to $35 million worth of housing stock each year. When I asked a question on notice via estimates about the amount of stock Housing ACT would be buying for each of those years, it was only about $5 million to $6 million a year. So the question then is: where does the surplus of $25 million to $30 million a year go, and is this being invested in housing stock?
The other point to consider is the government’s commitment to securing public housing in new suburbs, a principle that is a key measure in the public housing asset management strategy. Harrison, for example, has only five public housing dwellings, yet there are about 1,000 houses. Casey has one. Crace, Bonner and north Weston, where building has occurred or will occur shortly, do not seem to have any allocated, as is the case with Coombs.
Some groups have said that it is time to update the 2003-08 ACT government public housing asset management strategy. I agree with that statement, for it is unclear where the government is planning to go after the stimulus housing has come online and what its commitment is separate to the stimulus housing. The government has said that it will release a revised strategy after the commonwealth has undertaken work on public housing viability, and this was a recommendation in the estimates committee report. Given it may be some time before we see the results of the commonwealth’s work, this is work that should be undertaken within the next year by the government.
Development in new suburbs needs to be balanced with maintenance of dwellings in the inner north and city areas. The potential sale of the BAC flats causes some concern, as half of the current residents will be moved, but there is still not certainty about where that will be. Issues such as access to public transport and other essential services must be considered, along with the appropriateness of different age groups living in different areas.
The estimates committee made four recommendations with regards to Housing ACT. The first three revolve around issues of Housing ACT’s financial sustainability, given the cost of running housing is increasing at a rate which is greater than the growth in revenue from tenants. The first recommendation was that the ACT government develop a funding formula for ACT Housing to ensure that housing maintenance funds are adequate, given the changing mix of full rent and rent rebate tenants. The government responded by noting the recommendation and saying that it was waiting on commonwealth work being done on public housing viability.
Rumours abound that the commonwealth will propose that one-third of public housing will be redirected to affordable housing, where rent is around 74.9 per cent of market rent. This is a proposal the Greens strongly disagree with, as it could lead to major gaps in the needs of people requiring housing across the spectrum, including crisis accommodation and community and public housing.
The second recommendation from the estimates committee was that the minister for housing provide the Assembly with a ministerial statement on the future of crisis, public and community housing by December 2010. The government has agreed,