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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 April 2021) . . Page.. 975 ..

I cannot let it go by without correcting the record on Mr Parton’s allegations about where the ACT government stands with regard to supporting public housing tenants. I think we need to just reflect on the last term of the government and the Public Housing Renewal Program that I was responsible for during that term. I take everybody back to the conversation that occurred when new public housing was being proposed to be built in different parts of the ACT where there were lower numbers of public housing. The Canberra Liberals vocally opposed it. I vocally defended every single public housing tenant in the ACT.

I have publicly been on the side of public housing tenants and building public housing all across our city, within every suburb, to make sure that public housing tenants have the same choices about where they want to live across this city, whether that is a home in the suburbs right on the edge of our city or in the city closer to health care, schools or family—whatever their needs are. They are entitled, and they deserve, to choose where they want to live, just like the rest of us. I take particular personal offence at Mr Parton’s suggestion that I was not very publicly on the side of public housing tenants in the ACT.

Given the high ratio of public housing in Canberra, I understand that of course all MLAs will receive correspondence from tenants when they are experiencing issues around a range of matters concerning Housing ACT or the neighbourhoods that they live in. In this instance I have always encouraged members to please provide those details to my office, or to Ms Vassarotti’s office, if it is around tenant allocation or tenant management, so that we can work with the tenant and contact Housing ACT or Programmed to ensure that the issues can be resolved.

Mr Parton suggested he has had several hundred representations from tenants in the last couple of months. I checked with my office to see how many representations I had had from Mr Parton. Since the start of this year I have had 23 representations. All of those matters, as Mr Parton has said, are being addressed and I have responded to him. As I have said to him in the past, I am happy to talk confidentially in more detail about those individual tenants, but I will not discuss personal matters in this place. I am happy to talk more generally about some of the issues that those people are experiencing that they have raised with him so that he can be assured that Housing ACT and Programmed are working with that tenant appropriately and making sure that they are getting their needs addressed.

Housing ACT manages a portfolio of around 11,700 properties with a value of $5.4 billion. Housing ACT, like any other landlord, operates under the Residential Tenancies Act. This legislation is very clear when it comes to maintenance and the upkeep of properties and applies to both public and private landlords. Over the 2019-20 financial year, Housing spent approximately $52 million in repairs and upgrades to its portfolio through its total facilities manager, which is an increase from previous years. This equated to more than 77,000 work orders and included 783 upgrades to properties. The additional spending on repairs and maintenance was in response to significant natural events in early 2020 and a higher number of requests for maintenance and higher than anticipated vacant properties.

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