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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 466 ..

There are a range of ways to get through to the city. Of course, this was planned for many decades ago, with the construction of major new roads, including the Gungahlin Drive extension, that provides an arterial road on the western side of the city, and on the eastern side with the extension to the Monaro Highway through the Majura Parkway. These roads do provide new ways of getting in to the city, new major thoroughfares through the city, that can be used by people, rather than needing to use the ceremonial gateway into the city on Commonwealth Avenue. That will have to be, potentially, closed for a period of time while works are undertaken to raise London Circuit up to that grade level.

We will be clearly communicating what those disruptions will be so that Canberrans can make their choices about how they can best make their way into the city, if they are commuting to the city, or indeed avoid the city and not take a route through the city, if they are going elsewhere.

Housing ACT—vacant property

MR COE: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Housing and Suburban Development. I refer to the 30 properties at the mixed-use Toolangi complex in Kaleen, which sat unoccupied for 15 months while the government sought a higher revenue deal from CatholicCare. Documents released in an FOI request also state that Housing ACT was using a “fairly targeted” and “selective” approach when determining who would be offered those properties. Minister, why was the government willing to let these units sit vacant for 450 days while over 2,400 people were on the waiting list for a public housing property at the same time?

MS BERRY: Yes, it was an unacceptable time for those places to be empty when there are people in need of housing in the ACT. I have already expressed my frustration at the length of time it took. However, I am convinced that Housing ACT and the community housing provider, CatholicCare, have worked together on a really good arrangement that provides support for different people in our community who need different kinds of wraparound supports, including people who have mental health conditions or other disabilities.

Some of those units were changed to make sure that they were even more inclusive and had automatic door opening so that people who were living with a disability were able to get more access to that accommodation, with more accessibility. CatholicCare and Housing ACT were working on the best possible model for that complex. It is a different model for the ACT and it was a complex negotiation because it is a 20-year contract with CatholicCare. I am comfortable now with the work that Housing ACT and CatholicCare have done to get this arrangement. But I do share the opposition members’ frustration at the length of time that it took to get to this place.

MR COE: Minister, did you raise any concerns along the way—that is, perhaps at the three-month or the six-month mark, did you raise concerns as to why these properties were vacant? If so, why did it still take many months to actually get tenants into those properties?

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