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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (1 March) . . Page.. 453 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

As soon as we are seen to be saying that it does not really matter whether they pay their rent, what will follow will be a case where other people in public housing will say, "They are not going to do anything about it anyway, so I am not going to pay my rent either," and we would not have the income to support the people who are in public housing. That would be the case, unless we decide as an Assembly that we want to provide free housing for people, and my understanding is that that is not the decision of the majority of the members of this Assembly. Until it is, the administration of housing has to be fair but firm, and that is a reasonable way of doing it.

We looked at the report of the select committee and we have taken into account what happens to people who lose their public housing. A decision on that is never taken in the slightest bit lightly, because invariably we would have to look after them in a refuge or somewhere else if we were not careful. Ms Tucker's general philosophy was one about having to remember about poverty and we are dealing with poverty. The most effective way of dealing with poverty is by ensuring that there is adequate employment.

Every social scientist who looks at poverty will always say that the first and most important issue in terms of poverty is dealing with employment. Indeed, the proud record of this government, which started when Mr Kaine was a member of the government, is one of an improvement in the unemployment situation in the ACT, so that we are now down below 5 per cent for unemployment. That is the most effective way of dealing with poverty.

Ms Tucker referred to the comments on housing of the poverty task force. I have read those comments very carefully and they do not support the approach taken by Mr Wood or Ms Tucker. They make some general comments, but they do not support the approach that Ms Tucker has taken. I think it is disingenuous for her or Mr Wood to use the poverty task force to say that that is what happened. They certainly raised it as an issue. They simply talk about the importance of public housing in terms of dealing with the issue of poverty. None of us would shy away from that; it is incredibly important. It is the very reason for this kind of approach, because we are addressing those who are most in need.

Mr Speaker, I have just two other things to address. The first one is the situation where there are extra people in a house. Ms Tucker put one side of the story-

It being 45 minutes after the commencement of Assembly business, the debate was interrupted; ordered that the time allotted to Assembly business be extended by 30 minutes.

MR MOORE Ms Tucker dealt with the situation where there are extra people in a house. One side of the argument is to say that these poor people are not managing, but there is a flip side to that and it is the side that is most important. It is that we have a situation where somebody in a public housing system is being asked to pay 25 per cent of their wage rather than the full rental and they have living with them somebody who might be on a $50,000, $60,000 or $70,000 wage and is contributing nothing.

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