Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3213 ..
saying that the ministerial statement will articulate the vision for the social and affordable housing continuum for the ACT.
What still needs to be clarified is what is being referred to when we say “affordable housing”. This is especially interesting given many of the government’s affordable housing projects could be described as being unaffordable for a person on a low income. These at a maximum should charge no more than 30 per cent of income. They are different from the forms of the affordable housing that the government has encouraged. Stating that $400 per week is an affordable rent when referring to student accommodation is somewhat unrealistic. The overall issue of what is affordable requires further discussion and analysis and is something the Greens will be looking at closely.
MR COE (Ginninderra) (11.29): The housing budget and the housing policy area are particularly exciting areas where there are great opportunities. Over the last 10, 20, 30, even 50 years, the housing portfolio has been a bit of a policy vacuum to an extent. I think we have just evolved and we have just chugged along with the way we have always done things. Given the expenditure, given the capital, given the assets that we have, it is actually a portfolio where we have a tremendous opportunity to do some very exciting things with. I hope that, over the coming couple of years in this Assembly, we can make the most of that opportunity.
One thing that is, of course, a perpetual problem and one that I get a lot of concerned constituents contacting me about is antisocial behaviour in public housing properties. That is something that I did raise in the estimates process, and I acknowledge that it is a very tricky issue to deal with. It is not something which has a quick and easy fix. But, that said, I believe the department could do a lot more to tackle this problem. I hope that it is a priority of Minister Burch as she approaches her first year in the job.
In the estimates process, I spoke about the many people that contact my office, often in tears. I have had quite a few of them in my office in tears complaining about situations where they have a neighbour or someone across the street or a relative who has a neighbour who is really making their lives extremely difficult, whether it be through loud noise, domestic violence, vandalism or even assaults. We really need to clamp down on this.
When I asked a question of the officials during estimates about how long it takes to actually respond, they said, “We try and get an average of 21 days.” Well, the average is well above that. I am pretty sure—just going off memory here—the average was more like 28 days. Whilst that may not sound like a great deal, when you are lodging a complaint, it is usually after tolerating a situation for quite a while. After lodging a complaint and when you do not hear back or you just get a holding response for weeks on end, it can be a very distressing time. It really does fall upon this government and Minister Burch to do something about this so that the many Canberrans who are living near troublesome tenants actually get some sort of resolution.
Having said that, I think the vast majority of housing tenants do the right thing. The vast majority are good citizens and do no disservice whatsoever to public housing. But there are, of course, that small percentage that make life very difficult for many people. The government must clamp down on that as quickly as possible.