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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2666 ..

MS REILLY (continuing):

(2) the mix of housing types and sizes including the location of public housing throughout the ACT community be maintained; and

(3) public housing tenants are not subject to any diminution of the tenancy rights which they currently hold in the Territory.

I am moving this motion and seeking support to recognise the great concerns that have arisen in the community about the sell-off of public housing in the ACT. Public housing, which is a large percentage of housing in the ACT, is a very important community asset in the ACT. It is not something small that you can hide. It is something that is very important. We have had lots of discussion about the fact that our position is negative about a number of issues, but here we have a very positive asset in the ACT, and we are looking to sell it off. We are not looking at all the very positive parts of the community.

We have a situation - and we saw it yesterday in relation to schools - where we have a Liberal government that seems to consider that every community asset is for sale. It seems that every community asset has a price, but we do not consider the real value to the community. I ask: Why are we not proud of this asset? Why do we have to look to sell it? Do we sell off all the family silver? Do we sell off all the positive parts of community assets? We hear negative comments such as, "Why do we want to keep public housing? There are maintenance costs. Do we realise how much maintenance costs every year?". Surely, any good landlord would consider the fact that to maintain an investment you have to spend money on maintenance. You cannot just keep an asset and not do anything to maintain it, but this seems to be the attitude of the current Government. If there is a bit of a problem they say, "Let us just sell it and then we can pretend it is not there".

There are many good things about public housing in the ACT. We have 12,500 public housing units in the ACT. This gives us a higher rate of public housing than that in any other State or Territory. It is higher than the national average. Rather than thinking that this is something that should be cut down, we should look at it as a positive. This is a good thing for the ACT. As well as having such a large number of public housing units, we also have many different types. We have three-bedroom houses; we have one- and two-bedroom units. We have a very strong and good program of taking care of aged persons through the development and construction of aged persons units, which have been built in places that are accessible and within the communities where aged people lived previously. Obviously, as the Government would know, these units are extremely popular. There is a long waiting list for them. What is going to happen to aged people if we stop constructing, if we stop having a strong public housing sector?

Through the history of the development of public housing within the ACT, you will find that public housing has been built throughout the whole of the ACT. It is not clustered at the margins. It is not clustered miles from services. In fact, you will find public housing in the centre of Civic and through all parts of the ACT. It means that people can move into housing close to their work or services that they might need. They can stay close to the communities where they may have grown up and close to family. They are not forced,

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