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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 1801 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

A point raised by Ms Tucker related to energy conservation and the fact that that was not mentioned in the Bill. I think that is probably more a point of detail. As no doubt Ms Tucker would be aware, all new government housing in Canberra - despite economic difficulties, we try to provide as much new housing as we can, to ensure that our tenants are properly catered for - has to be built with this in mind. In fact, over the last 14 or 15 months as Minister I have had the pleasure of opening a number of new housing projects which have the latest in energy conservation. I think Ms Tucker and her colleague Ms Horodny have been to a couple of those openings and have inspected some of those new buildings, and have been, I would hope, fairly favourably impressed by the energy conservation shown.

Mr Moore quite correctly stressed the importance and the innate fairness and sensibility of the objects set out here, and I thank him for his comments. He also mentioned the need not to push people to the fringes. I think in Canberra we are very fortunate - and we are continuing this policy - in having public housing in the vast majority of suburbs. There are now new designs. They are not just things like the Radburn design, or the classic standard 1947 three-bedroom govie design. We now have different types of designs for the newer houses. Quite often it is very difficult to tell what is a public housing property and what is a private housing property. Our tenants are spread throughout the suburbs. We also have various alternative types of housing - some of the community housing is a good case in point here - also spread throughout the suburbs, and not necessarily on the fringes. I think that is testimony to the fact that public housing has been spread throughout Canberra in an attempt to avoid some of the problems in other parts of Australia and overseas where you do have public housing concentrated in a certain area and you risk such things as ghetto mentalities.

As well, in recent times, where there are large concentrations of people in public housing, such as in the flats, certain things have been done to improve the amenity of people. In terms of the ABC flats, improvements have been made there. The fact that there is a housing officer there to assist on a regular basis, that there are such things as guardian angels and that a significant refurbishment of gardens has taken place has led to a marked improvement in terms of lessening crime. People actually want to move there and there is a greater amenity of life for our tenants. Similarly, improvements in such places as Burnie Court have led to an improved quality of life for tenants in those larger areas. All of those things are crucially important in terms of public housing. So we do have a good mix of housing and types of housing, and a good mix throughout most of our suburbs.

Mr Speaker, at this stage in terms of the Commonwealth-State agreement the aim is that both the Commonwealth and the States are not disadvantaged in any way financially, and I think that is essential, especially speaking on behalf of the Territory. There is no way that we would want to be disadvantaged in any way. In terms of the new agreement, which is basically Brian Howe's option B with a few amendments, there is significant potential, if it is done properly, for public housing not only in the Territory but Australia-wide to really advance into the twenty-first century, with more flexibility for the States, significant input of moneys still from the Commonwealth, and the ability for improvements to be made as a result.

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