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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1544 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

informed of this closure quite a while ago, because I have no doubt that the decision was made well before this time. There is nothing more important to people than the roof over their head. They need that security.

Some of the changes revealed in the budget place a greater threat, a greater lack of security, over public housing tenants. The Chief Minister has announced the removal of permanent tenure. No longer will you be able after the budget to move into a government house and say, "Well, here we are. I can establish a wonderful garden. This is my home, I have this home". Periodically after Tuesday, new tenants will be asked whether they are still eligible or should be kicked out. Their circumstances will be reviewed. I think that will impose a very difficult problem on people.

Take the circumstance of most people. They are poor and the only housing they can afford is public housing. Perhaps they are unemployed. They get on the eligibility list and get a public house. Their circumstances may change, they may get a job, and then three, four or five years later the Government comes along and says to them, "You are no longer eligible; you do not meet our criteria". It does not happen now and has not happened in the life of the ACT. They could be asked to move and then in the uncertain environment that we have today they could lose that job or their circumstances could deteriorate and they would have to go back and wait for a long period of time before they became eligible for a house.

But it is more than that; it is that feeling you get if you do not think that you are going to be there for a long period of time. Mr Smyth might have greater difficulty in finding his housing tenant of the month, that very large number of people who care very much for their home and put their heart and soul into having a beautiful garden, for example. If you did not have that feeling, if you had a feeling of insecurity, you would be much less likely to do that. A particular problem in today's circumstances, and we have cycles in this regard, is that a few years ago there was a surplus of private rental accommodation, whereas at the present moment private rental accommodation is absolutely tight. It is very difficult to get a private house. That circumstance might apply in a few years and if people had to leave their government house there would be no guarantee that they would get a private residence and they would have to join the list of people who go into a caravan park, sleep in their cars or bed down with relatives, with all the stresses and strains that accompany that. I am sure that you will agree that this is a very significant change, but it was not done with any consultation. So, I do not want Mr Smyth coming in here talking about consultation again, thank you.

There is a further housing matter to raise arising out of this budget, as for last year's budget, and that is the transfer of a large number of homes to the community housing sector. The fact is that in last year's budget it was established as a pilot program. That means what it says. "We are trialling this, folks. We are going to see how it goes to see if it works. We are going to evaluate it". Evaluation was a very essential part of this program, as of any pilot program. There has not been an evaluation. If there had been it would have to say that the program has not gone too well. At this stage, I understand that fewer than 40 of the 200 houses proposed have been transferred to the community sector. There is a little time yet to go before the year is up and there is a great flurry of activity, but it is no easy task because for the most part, among other things, the houses that are

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