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that they have enjoyed for years. Quality of life for a lot of people comes from their neighbourhood, from whom they live near, the shops that they regularly go to, and the people that they know. When proposals for joint venture development go ahead - I am all for that because the Minister is quite right; the stock is old and a lot of it does need to be redeveloped - is it going to be redevelopment at a price, which may be the moving out of people from their familiar environment into perhaps other less desirable places? This is what I would like to know about. Minister, we all await developments on all fronts with interest.
MR MOORE (11.47): Mr Speaker, I think the issue of public housing is always going to be particularly interesting in this Assembly, and I think it is always important in our discussions to distinguish between what we mean by public housing and what we mean by welfare housing. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that Canberra is very well placed because it has a system of public housing as opposed to a system of welfare housing. We have a system where the assets of the Territory return a profit to the Territory. Where people can meet the appropriate costs of their rent, that in turn subsidises the welfare housing. Indeed, Mr Speaker, because we have public housing, there is no stigma associated with people being in public housing.
One of the most interesting meetings that I have had since I have been a member of the Assembly was a meeting with Lee Brown, who is often referred to as the drug tsar. He is in Bill Clinton's Administration and his responsibility is the American drug laws. In discussing those issues with him I must say that I did not get a long way in terms of the views that I was expressing. Nevertheless, it was an interesting discussion, and I must say that he was very receptive. We agreed that the laws that he was dealing with were dependent to a great extent on the way our societies worked and social differences. I explained to him that one of the most significant differences between Canberra and what he had to deal with in places like New York and Chicago was the fact that our public housing is distributed throughout our city. I described the fact that only three of our suburbs - I think that is correct - do not have public housing, and that in the other suburbs there might be a privately owned house worth $400,000 next-door to publicly owned housing rented to tenants. It might be welfare housing or it might not be; that we simply do not know whether our neighbours are in welfare housing or not, and nor is it of any concern to us.
His response to that was that if he could have a situation like that his problems would be minuscule compared to what they are. I think it is a very important lesson to us, Mr Speaker. It is quite clear that the way we deal with social problems in Australia is very different, fortunately, from the way they deal with them in the United States. It is a warning to us that, if we do water down our systems in terms of public housing, for example, and wind up with just welfare housing, we can expect an increase in social problems which may be much more expensive to deal with than the extra investment that we have in terms of our public housing. One of the things that I have always been very proud of in Canberra is that, through our public housing system, we have what I believe is a much more socially just society than you will find in almost any other place in the world.