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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3733 ..

Water and Electricity Charges

MS REILLY: My question is to the Minister for Housing, Mr Stefaniak. Minister, what analysis has the ACT Housing and family, children's and youth services sector undertaken to gauge the impact of ACTEW's proposed 50 per cent price increase for water and 6 per cent price increase for electricity on low-income earners, particularly ACT Housing Trust tenants? What measure is the Minister considering to assist such people with the hardship the proposed price increases will cause?

MR STEFANIAK: You are probably directing that question to the wrong Minister. I think Mr De Domenico has answered some questions in relation to ACTEW. Basically, Ms Reilly, that is for ACTEW. As you are well aware, ACT Housing charges tenants very reasonable rents based on their actual income. As the majority of our tenants are on some sort of pension, rents are limited. Certainly, there are none in the ACT above 25 per cent of the tenant's income. I suppose that is point No. 1 in terms of Housing doing the right thing. Also, there are various rebate schemes available in other areas and in other departments, Ms Reilly, which low-income people can access. I understand that they include a provision for paying a concessional rate for electricity, which a large number of Housing Trust tenants avail themselves of. Various other concessional rates are applicable as well.

MS REILLY: I ask a supplementary question. I am glad the Minister is not concerned about the possible impact of these price increases on his revenue. This is something that I think is probably a bit closer.

MR SPEAKER: No preamble.

MS REILLY: Will the Minister give a commitment to ensure that ACT Housing properties are properly insulated and that old and expensive hot-water units that have no off-peak systems are replaced, as this will allow ACT Housing tenants to minimise their energy costs in the light of ACTEW's proposed price increases?

MR STEFANIAK: Ms Reilly, I think at the Estimates Committee I actually answered a question on notice from you in relation to maintenance. Housing has cyclical maintenance arrangements. I think you will find that there was an increase in actual maintenance proposed for this financial year for Housing Trust properties. I think the increase was from about $12.9m to about $15m. The exact figures have actually been provided to your office, but there was certainly an increase in excess of $2m for maintenance this financial year. Maintenance, of course, includes such things as hot-water systems.

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