Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 981 ..

ACT Housing - Waiting Times

MR OSBORNE: My question to the Minister for Urban Services is about government housing. I understand that Mr Wood asked a question about this too but I missed it. On 9 April the Chief Minister confirmed to the Prime Minister via the media an offer to immediately house up to 400 refugees from Kosovo. Ms Carnell stated at the time that any refugees would probably be either billeted in people's homes or housed in unused public housing. Your contribution, Minister, was to add that you have about 500 vacant public houses at your disposal which presumably could be used for this purpose. When questioned the following day, Minister, about why your department has so many public houses vacant, you went on the attack and said that the ACT had the shortest waiting times for public housing in the country, with about half of all applicants having to wait only six months. As of yesterday, the approximate waiting time for a two-bedroom house in the Tuggeranong region was five years and 111/2 months and just over five years for a four-bedroom house. The average waiting time for all types of public housing in Tuggeranong was four years and three months. Minister, how do you equate these extremely long waiting times with your statement that half of all applicants have to wait only six months?

MR SMYTH: There is no difficulty in this at all. I thank Mr Osborne for his question, because it is a very important question. It highlights the dilemma that faces the ACT Government and the people of the ACT in supporting public housing. It highlights quite adequately the fact that if you want a three-bedroom house in the inner north we have a large number of such houses. In fact, some half of the stock are three-bedroom houses that were built at a time when we housed public servants. They were public servant housing. Changes in the family, changes in the demographics and changes in the population of the ACT, and the desire by people to live inside their own networks with their families and their friends mean that the stock we have where we have it no longer meets what the public would like.

The perfect case is Tuggeranong, where we have some of the longest waiting lists. Contrary to public opinion that all public housing tenants want to live in the CBD, in the centre of Canberra, or in North Canberra, some of our longest waiting lists are in Tuggeranong. We address the public housing waiting list by looking at the mismatches that we have between stock and applicants' needs and make sure that we meet needs where we can.

People on the waiting list apply for a certain suburb or a certain street. They want to be housed in an area that they are very specific about. We have to simply wait until accommodation becomes available and then they are housed. So you need to treat the figures on the list with some wariness, but at the same time Mr Osborne's question perfectly highlights the dilemma that we face in housing, in that the old stock does not meet the needs of the modern housing tenant.

MR OSBORNE: I ask a supplementary question. I look forward to the press release which says that it is not six months' waiting time, Minister, but I do not think I will see it. Minister, you said that there were 500 vacant public houses to house the refugees.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .