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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2597 ..

Mr De Domenico: What a blockbuster!

MRS CARNELL: It is a bit of a blockbuster. As I just said, Mr Speaker, yes, we will be selling some Housing Trust accommodation - not all of it, as those opposite wanted to tell various media outlets - and we will be building new Housing Trust accommodation of a value in excess of $28m. Yes, the mix will change, as it should have changed under the previous Government. Unfortunately, they did not take the bull by the horns and address the absolute ultimate in consultation with Housing Trust tenants - ask them what they want. They tell us that they want more one- and two-bedroom accommodation and more aged persons units. The requests for three-bedroom homes, which often need a lot of maintenance, are down significantly. That is ultimate consultation, giving people what they want. That, I believe, is a very sensible approach of actually - wait for this, Mr Speaker - responding to the customer. The customer is the Housing Trust tenant. That is what we are doing.

Housing - Commonwealth Budget Cuts

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, my question is also on housing, but I direct it to Mr Stefaniak now that the Chief Minister has admitted in this house that she has given away $10.4m from the housing budget. Now that the $10.4m has gone, Mr Stefaniak, I presume that you have managed to ensure that there are no waiting lists for public housing. We already know that there are pressures on for one- and two-bedroom units. I presume that there is no waiting at all for maintenance on public housing and that is why it is that you are able to let $10.4m go from your budget.

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. I wonder whether the member would like, say, $2.5m of that, perhaps, to come from Education, another $2.5m from Health, or whatever. The fact is, Mr Moore, that the Government was able to do that simply because, in the long run, it does not make any great difference. Our tenants are still protected; their rights are protected; it is something we can actually manage without any considerable pain, as any other option would involve. As the Chief Minister has said, it is more than $10.4m in terms of what we did not get from the Commonwealth. I think it is something more like about $25m, and with revenue shortfalls we are talking about a lot more. I think people have to realise we have a severe budgetary problem in this Territory.

Mr Moore, you talked about waiting lists. Yes, there are people on the waiting list. I am pleased to say, though, that it has come down considerably in the last 18 months. The figure is a little less than 4,000. In fact, the other day I was listening to a person from ACT Housing who said it was something like 3,000. My understanding is that the figure was about 6,000 or 7,000 when the previous Government were in office. But yes, there is a waiting list, Mr Moore; and, hopefully, when the States and Territories finally negotiate and iron out the long-term Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, which is due to come into effect some time in the second half of next year, that will ensure that waiting lists drop even further because of the inherent flexibility in the model B approach there.

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