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There are times when it is impossible to allow people to buy their public housing, particularly when allowing them to do so would mean the loss of public housing in inner city areas. It is important in Canberra that we have an integrated public housing approach throughout all of our suburbs; that we have people living in private housing and people living in public housing. I would encourage the Minister to ensure that safeguards are in place and that there is an appropriate distribution of stock, as well as encouraging people to buy their own homes.
Mr Speaker, I know that you have taken a particular interest in housing over the last three or four years. In concluding, I think it is very important to recognise that when we are talking about public housing we are talking about people's homes. The vast majority of people in our public housing system see those public houses as their homes. As long as we remember that we are talking about people's homes, and we respect their homes in the same way that we would expect to be treated in our homes, I think we will find the appropriate balance. When people abuse that it is appropriate to take action, but let us make sure that that action is specific.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.57): Mr Speaker, I want to pick up a comment made by Ms McRae in her remarks about consultation surrounding the housing strategy in the ACT. Ms McRae asked who would be consulted, when, how and so on, and those are reasonably good questions.
Ms McRae: You are going to do it for me, are you?
MR HUMPHRIES: I do not know. My colleague Mr Stefaniak would be responsible for doing it and I am sure that, when he speaks in a moment, he will give you a satisfactory answer as to what sort of processes are being considered by the Government for that. Ms McRae particularly asked whether she would be invited to be involved in that process, and I think that is a reasonable question for any member of the Assembly to ask. Mr Speaker, when members call for that level of consultation on particular matters, I ask them to consider whether, in doing so, they are not merely exploiting a stated commitment on the part of the Government to have a high level of consultation, but whether they are actually also committing themselves, in the case of the Labor Party, as potential future Ministers, to that level of consultation which they now demand for themselves.
That is a very good question, because we have seen in the past the trading of insults about who is more consultative. Unfortunately, on occasions, our level of consultation across the chamber has slipped back into a non-consultative mode when it suited the government of the day to do that. I would hope that members opposite, if they receive a level of consultation as a result of a change in policy - they demand it, indeed, on the floor of this house, as Ms McRae did a moment ago - are prepared to reciprocate. I do not pretend that we are going to be in government forever. I am sure that no government in the ACT, after the experience of recent years, should make that assumption. I hope that in offering consultation with the Labor Party that they - - -