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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2980 ..

MR WHITECROSS (continuing):

How is the community to take this decision in the light of the fiasco created over the funding of special holiday programs for these children, which have been so badly handled that your department has been forced to apologise for it, although you have not chosen to? What message are you sending to the community when, first, you have this fiasco, and now your department considers this such a low priority that it was not even granted funding in the latest funding round?

MR STEFANIAK: That is a very long supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I do not think Mr Whitecross really appreciates that the Commonwealth sets the criteria. He might like to take it up with the Commonwealth. My department is quite happy to see whether it can do anything in relation to this, but in this instance it is very much guided by Commonwealth criteria. You might like to take that up with your Federal colleagues, Mr Whitecross.

Housing Trust - Complaints

MS TUCKER: My question is to the Minister for Housing, Mr Stefaniak. In today's Canberra Times it was reported that complaints to the ACT Housing Trust increased by 28 per cent in 1994-95. What action will you take in response to this, to ensure that complaints are better dealt with in the future?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for that question. The ACT Housing Trust fully supports the role of the Ombudsman's Office, and we do have a very good track record in cooperating with that office to resolve complaints quickly and amicably. In 1994-95 the Labor Government was in power for about nine months, and I think that is a very important fact to note. There was a 28 per cent increase, but the Labor Government was in power. Even then I think the Housing Trust supported the role of the Ombudsman's Office.

Ms Tucker, most of the case studies outlined in the report involved routine administrative problems of a type that occurs from time to time in most agencies. I think you will see, if you look at the table, that ACT Housing was able to respond in a way that enabled these complaints to be resolved satisfactorily following the Ombudsman's approach. I think the percentage in the table is something like 78 per cent, which is better than that of any other agency. In terms of time of response, it was about 18 days. Whilst I will say that those complaints and that percentage increase occurred largely under the previous administration, there are still those positive aspects.

In relation to what is being done, I think I have mentioned on a number of occasions in this house steps taken by this Government to improve the procedure. I have indicated on a number of occasions that we want to be a good landlord. Sure, we expect tenants to live up to their responsibilities; but we have responsibilities as well, and one of them is prompt responses to complaints. Members might like to note how many complaints they get from Housing Trust tenants. A number of people have mentioned to me that the number is down considerably from what it was 12 months ago.

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