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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 793 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

Maybe we need to be too or maybe we do not, but I would like the Government, rather than simply putting forward the proposition that they are going to change the ownership status of this piece of ground, which in my view would carry some detriment to the existing tenants, to explain these matters.

For that reason I support Mr Wood's motion, together with the amendment put forward by Ms Tucker. I am sure that the Government, if they take these matters seriously, can justify their case if at the end of the day they decide to go ahead and change the ownership arrangements, but I think these are necessary prerequisites before the Government takes that step.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (5.15): The decision to sell the Narrabundah long-stay caravan park was taken as part of ACT Housing's commitment and the Government's commitment to upgrade public housing. ACT Housing's core business is to meet the Government's and the ACT community's expectation as a provider and manager of public housing property and tenancies. The park has never been treated as part of public housing stock. There is no means test for residents, and commercial fees are charged. Accordingly, the Government believes that the private sector would be better placed to own and operate the park and release government resources to be better used elsewhere by the reinvestment of those funds in public housing.

Mr Speaker, as I said in my press release, at this stage the indicative annual cost of running the park is estimated to provide a net revenue of some $100,000, with a gross turnover of some $240,000. However, the park is in need of substantial upgrading, and the Government does not believe that it is appropriate to divert funds from public housing for this purpose. The Government believes that the residents' interests will be better served by a private owner whose main focus and priority is to run it as a caravan park.

The park was set up as temporary accommodation back in the late 1970s. It also fulfilled a role in providing low-cost accommodation for workers constructing the new Parliament House in the 1980s. Although responsibility for the park was transferred to the Commissioner for Housing in the lead-up to self-government, there is no longer a valid role for government in this area.

Both the Government and, through the Government, ACT Housing are conscious of the potential implications for the residents of the park. We understand that the 108 leases are home for 186 residents. We appreciate that while the park is for mobile homes everybody knows that there are substantial buildings there with additions and add-ons. They are the homes of people.

Accordingly, we intend to sell the caravan park as a going concern, with the residents having their site permits transferred to the new owner. As well as maintaining the permits, ACT Housing will extend the caretaker's contract to April 2000 and this arrangement will transfer to the new owner, again supporting the Government's intention that the park continue in its current operation under any new owner.

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