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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 795 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The basic issue in this case is whether or not ACT Housing should be required to continue to operate an activity that is outside its business of delivering housing and tenancy to those who are eligible. The Government has taken the view that it is inappropriate for us to continue this. I do not have a figure but I am told that the majority of local and municipal governments have got out of the caravan park business and that the majority of caravan parks are now run by private concerns.

The Government has also taken the view that their highest priority must always be upgrading the stock for, and providing new stock to, those eligible for public housing assistance. The Government recognises that some of the residents of the caravan park may be in this category and has already offered assistance to those people who believe that they may qualify. We believe that this approach, together with the sale of the park as a going concern, with tenancy rights written into the agreement of sale, will be adequate protection for those who have chosen the lifestyle of living in the caravan park. Those who qualify for public housing will be allowed to apply for it. The period leading up to the sale will be an uncertain time for the residents. I have asked ACT Housing to ensure that residents continue to have access to appropriate information throughout the process, and staff will continue their liaison with residents.

Mr Kaine asked about the benefits. The benefit to the tenants of ACT Housing is that the sale will free up money that we can use for new properties or maintenance on existing properties. Mr Kaine asked where the tenants would go were the park to be changed. It is not our intention that the park be changed. We see that it does provide a function and we wish it to continue as a going concern as a long-stay caravan park. We will secure that through the lease and through the sale agreement.

I do not believe that the motion in its current form is necessary. I foreshadow that I will be seeking leave to move the amendment that has been circulated in my name. I am happy to provide details to Assembly members and to advise the Assembly on the long-term protection of tenants' rights, but I believe that what we have here is the Government moving to sell an ACT Housing property. We have that right. We should have that right, and we intend to proceed with the sale.

MR QUINLAN (5.24): I have attended a couple of meetings at this caravan park, one called by the residents and one with government officials. If the Minister wants to know how to get there, I am happy to let him know, or he can get directions from some of the people I think he has met for the first time here today. I do think that he might have paid them a personal visit. When the officials and the inevitable consultant turned up to the meeting, they were there only to justify a decision. There was no room for them to negotiate with the residents and there was no sense amongst the residents that their concerns were actually heard. The process was highly ritualistic. Certainly, that came through to the residents of the caravan park. I have copies of the Government's letter to the residents and the Minister's press release. Let me share some of the letter with you. The first paragraph says:

The mobile home park is not part of ACT Housing's core business ...

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