Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 4004 ..
MR BERRY: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, will you confirm or deny that the then head of your department, Mr John Walker, now AM, personally oversighted the initial construction of a fence around the Canberra Hospital implosion sight in the a.m. on or about 14 December 1996?
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am confident that Mr Walker is a very competent public servant, but he is not very good at building fences.
MR BERRY: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Chief Minister check the details of this matter and report back to the Assembly?
MS CARNELL: The coroner spent 18 months to two years looking at this issue. We have had a full report on it. It is not appropriate to look at the issue again. Mr Walker was the head of my department. He did not, to my knowledge, go out on Acton Peninsula building or supervising the building of fences.
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, I note your satisfaction - expressed in a media release in which you cited 1996 ABS census data - that apparently fewer than 10 people in the ACT had no roof over their head on census night 1996. Forgetting for the moment the fact that census takers would have trouble knocking on the door of someone without a door, do you also consider it satisfactory that approximately 650 people were forced to live with relatives or friends or that about 480 people were living in temporary SAAP accommodation? I remind the Chief Minister that we will be celebrating United Nations Day later this week. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states:
... the right to housing should not be interpreted in a narrow or restrictive sense which equates it with, for example, the shelter provided by merely having a roof over one's head or views shelter exclusively as a commodity. Rather, it should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity.
Chief Minister, do you understand that the 1,200 people identified are desperate to find more than just a roof over their heads and that this crisis over the lack of a roof imposes a severe strain on them and those on whom they are forced to impose?
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I believe that the issue of homelessness is an extremely important one, which is the reason that we raised this issue as an important one.
Mr Corbell: They need temporary accommodation.
Mr Berry: They can stay at the Hyatt.