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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1368 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

understand the true value of the water. In this case I think your figures are wrong. The advice I have from the department is that it is in fact an increase of $800,000, and we are very pleased to have done that.

MS TUCKER: Okay, thank you. I have a supplementary question. On the matter of the water abstraction charge, that is something that many environmentalists have lobbied for. It is in recognition of the issues around catchment management. You will be raising $1.7m in revenue from that. How much out of that amount will be allocated now to improve catchment management?

MR SMYTH: The important thing here is that we spend some $22m directly on maintaining the environment through Environment ACT as well as other initiatives through various other parts of the department. Water abstraction money will be raised, but this Government does not hypothecate any money. We believe that money should go to the Government and then be allocated appropriately. The water abstraction money, for instance, would go nowhere near to offsetting the $22m that we commit to the environment every year. We are very pleased with the extra $800,000 that we have been able to put into the environment, and we will continue to look after the environment, as we should, because this is the bush capital.

Government Housing

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Housing. Minister, the 1999-2000 budget proposes the disposal of a further 800 government houses to the community sector over the next five years. That is an ambitious target. My question focuses on the planned transfer of 200 houses in the current financial year, a trial year, if you like. Minister, firstly how many government houses have been allocated - that is promised - to the community sector? That may follow a flurry of activity in the last few weeks. Secondly, and most importantly, how many houses have actually been transferred to the community sector? Finally, what are the processes undertaken to get those houses across to the community sector?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank the member for his question and his long-term interest in housing issues. One of the deficiencies in the public housing market, as outlined by the Productivity Commissioner, was the fact that there was a significant lack of choice in public housing in the ACT in comparison to other jurisdictions. The Government's commitment at the last election that we would broaden the range of providers of public housing was initially to see some 200 houses go across to Community Housing Canberra. We are quite pleased with the way that is going and we will now extend it so that some thousand houses will be transferred by the year 2005. It is very important, where we can, to allow tenants to have a say in the houses that they reside in because - - -

Mr Wood: Tell us how far that has gone.

MR SMYTH: It is progressing rather nicely. I will have to - - -

Mr Wood: Progressing well. How well?

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