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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 April 2021) . . Page.. 972 ..


left in a severe state of distress and frustration, believing it was simply too hard to get anything done. Eventually there has been some movement there, but I was contacted again by that resident in the last 48 hours and we are still a long way from having things sorted.

In another case, a couple in the Woden area were forced to move out of their house due to severe mould infestation, while a tenant in the inner south had skin conditions exacerbated by lack of maintenance to remedy a similar health problem. Another resident in Tuggeranong complained of a severe mould infestation in the bathroom that has prevailed for quite some time. I have seen it for myself and I was blown away. In Belconnen, a tenant suffered major storm damage due to faulty installation of guttering, also causing electrical problems. Another case in the Woden area—failure to repair locks in a complex was associated with an assault and, as you can understand, deep fear among elderly tenants. Interestingly, the tenant was advised the contractor could do nothing because funding had been exhausted. This is what people are being told on the ground: “Oh, we can’t fix that because funding has been exhausted.” A similar issue with locks was recently highlighted in relation to Condamine Court. Again in Belconnen a tenant has reached out to me complaining his cooking appliances had failed and for a number of weeks he has not been able to prepare food.

I could go on and on, but I hope this gives members a bit of a picture of the feedback that we are getting, and I suspect others in the room are receiving similar feedback. The Housing ACT annual report gives a clue as to where the problem might be in referring to its financial deficit and financial risks. The agency said its ongoing operating revenue capacity is not keeping up with the disproportionate property costs of its operation. I do note that in answer to a question without notice Ms Berry gave a response regarding some additional funding that was apparently spent on maintenance in the calendar year of 2020. But if it is additional funding, why has it been taken away from the following calendar year? That is the big question I have.

Staying on this perspective for a moment, the public housing repair contract says that the Commissioner for Social Housing may in its absolute discretion direct reimbursable services to be performed despite the services budget having being exhausted. This is stated in section 5.42, dealing with the services budget. Members might wish to read this for themselves.

There is clearly a serious problem with public housing maintenance. If this were a problem with private sector landlords, my Greens colleagues would have formed a conga line a mile long to fix the problem immediately. But the government is dealing with public tenants, who do not seem to matter all that much in the scheme of things, and it is happy to callously disregard their circumstances. Perhaps it could show some compassion and rethink the appropriation it is debating this week and fix the problem. It is probably a little late for that.

All we are asking for in this motion is a priority effort to get on top of a significant problem for some tenants. It is absolutely unfair to make those who are impacted by health and safety risks endure them when the government has the means to fix them. If the deadline in the motion is untenable, well, pick another date. But I do not believe that we should leave it for an unacceptably long time. I also suggest the minister avoid


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